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This paper presents techniques that facilitate mobile robots to be deployed as interactive agents in populated environments such as museum exhibitions or trade shows. The mobile robots can be tele-operated over the Internet and, this way, provide remote access to distant users. Throughout this paper we describe several key techniques that have been developed in this context. To support safe and reliable robot navigation, techniques for environment mapping, robot localization, obstacle detection and people-tracking have been developed. To support the interaction of both web and on-site visitors with the robot and its environment, appropriate software and hardware interfaces have been employed. By using advanced navigation capabilities and appropriate authoring tools, the time required for installing a robotic tour-guide in a museum or a trade fair has been drastically reduced. The developed robotic systems have been thoroughly tested and validated in the real-world conditions offered in the premises of various sites. Such demonstrations ascertain the functionality of the employed techniques, establish the reliability of the complete systems, and provide useful evidence regarding the acceptance of tele-operated robotic tour-guides by the broader public.