A father in quarantine on a Marine base in California was able to attend his daughter’s wedding hundreds of kilometers away in Arizona. He did so through a “telepresence robot,” directing its movements, mingling with guests and watching from the sidelines as his daughter danced at the wedding party.

With more people worldwide severely curtailing their movements to fight the coronavirus, they are also getting creative about how to still be part of big moments in their lives. 

Among the thousands of people stuck on the Grand Princess cruise ship when it faced the coronavirus quarantine was Joel Young, a lighting contractor. He passed the time in his small cabin playing video games. He hoped to be home in Arizona for one thing — his daughter’s wedding.    

Then he was quarantined in San Diego.   

“When I called her and talked to her, and told her that I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to be able to make it, there were a lot of tears there,”  he said.

Friends and colleagues rallied and found Young a way to be there by using a robot telepresence that is controlled remotely by the user. It was shipped to his mother’s house in Phoenix. They called it the “Papabot,” and put a tie on it.   

“With this device, it allows me to control what I'm looking at, where I'm going,” he said. 

The outdoor wedding went beautifully. Young didn’t get to walk his daughter down the aisle as planned, but he was there mingling with guests, watching her happiness from the sidelines.  

 “You meet a challenge, you find the best solution you can. And you accept what it is, and you move on,”  he said.
 
As the world struggles with the new normal of living through a pandemic, technology helped one father be where he was needed.