iRobot's Ava 500 telepresence-on-a-stick is rolling out now (update: $69,500!!)

There are plenty of telepresence robots on the market already, but iRobot's new Ava 500 may just be the best option out there. The highlight here is that the device is completely autonomous, just like the company's RP-VITA healthcare bot. Once it maps out your office during an "exploration phase," you can schedule a conference to join via an iRobot app. When your meeting time comes around, you'll be assigned an available Ava, which will wheel itself into position in the conference room, theoretically avoiding obstacles along the way.

Just like iRobot's home cleaning tools, Ava returns to its charging dock between sessions, so it should be able to operate without assistance for quite some time. iRobot hasn't shared pricing at this point, but we wouldn't be surprised to see Ava priced in line with a small car, based on the RP-VITA's jaw-dropping reported lease pricing of $4,000 and up per month. It includes the Cisco EX60 telepresence platform, which features a camera paired with a 21.5-inch HD display -- that component alone retails for just shy of $9,000. It's available now through select certified Cisco resellers.

Update: iRobot reached out with pricing information, and it's not pretty. Eva will run you a cool $2,500 per month, or $69,500 if you're buying one outright. OUCH!