The Willow Garage Robot Opens Up and Plugs In

Posted 11 Jun 2009 at 19:20 UTC (updated 12 Jun 2009 at 13:37 UTC) by steve Share This

We've mentioned Willow Garage before. They're a robot startup company founded by one of the original Google designers. They're developing PR2, a robot they hope will lay the groundwork for future, commercially produced personal robots. They've just reached "milestone 2" in their R&D plan. PR2 has succeeded in completing a test run through a crowded office environment that included human obstacles. The robot was able to open and pass through eight conventional doors and plug itself into nine different standard AC power outlets. The video above shows a time lapse of the test run which took nearly an hour to complete.

For Milestone 2, our tester designated ten different outlets that the robot was required to plug into, although only nine of the selected outlets were physically reachable. The robot was expected to successfully detect that one of its ten goal outlets was behind a locked door, abort that effort, and move on to its next outlet. The rest of the doors were placed in various states of closed, partially opened, and fully open.

In addition to the PR2 hardware Willow Garage is developing software called ROS (Robot Operating System), a low-level control library for robots. Despite the name, ROS actually lives on top of a conventional Unix-style OS such as GNU/Linux. ROS is Open Source software, licensed under the BSD license (so it also meets the definition of Free Software).

Impressive, posted 12 Jun 2009 at 08:39 UTC by c6jones720 » (Master)

That is very impressive I spent a whole christmas vacation period trying to get a Whitebox 914 to intelligently charge itself at a docking station. It didnt have an arm so It just drove into the charger. The ultimate goal though would be to dock with a wall socket.

The Willow garage software must be pretty good. If the algortihms and suiotable method can be ported to other systems then this could be a definate step forward for intellignet mobile robots.

Most Impressive, posted 12 Jun 2009 at 11:50 UTC by The Swirling Brain » (Master)

This robot is so cool! Wow, what a demonstration! Sweet!

Right track, posted 12 Jun 2009 at 13:32 UTC by Rog-a-matic » (Master)

These guys are doing a lot of stuff right. If I could afford a house in Menlo Park and the state income tax, I'd be helping out!

Cool, posted 13 Jun 2009 at 18:25 UTC by wedesoft » (Master)

Nice work. Did I see Gary Bradski at the end of the video? ;)

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