The folks at the I heart robotics blog let us know that Willow Garage, the startup working on the PR2 personal robot and the open source Robot Operating System, just announced a PR2 Beta Program. They're looking for labs and research organizations willing to work with the PR2 and contribute to the rapidly growing ROS software stack. Make a proposal describing the open source software and scientific contribution you'd like to make. Willow Garage will give a PR2 to those organizations with the best proposals. They'll favor proposals that do one or more of the following
* Enable scientific breakthroughs in personal robotics
* Expand the open source robotics community
* Develop reusable components and tools
* Dxplore new applications for personal robots
The Robot Operating System, despite the name, is not an OS but a software stack that runs on top of the GNU/Linux OS and includes a standardized robot-specific API, the OpenCV libraries, Player/Stage, and the TREX goal/event driven behavior framework. For details on how to participate, see the Call For Proposals. For all the details on the PR2 robot itself, see the PR2 specification page. To see an early prototype of the PR2 in action, see our previous video of the robot plugging itself in to recharge.