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Open Source Robotics Hardware

Willow Garage To Give Away 10 Open Source Robots 44

Posted by kdawson
from the bend-to-the-tempest dept.
kkleiner writes "Open source robotics received a huge momentum boost last Friday. Willow Garage, one of the driving forces behind the Robot Operating System, announced that it would be giving away ten of its new and extraordinary PR2 Beta Robots. Willow Garage has an open call for proposals, so that any research group can apply to receive one of the PR2 Betas free of charge. Applicants will have to release their research with the PR2 freely and under standard open source agreements. In this way, Willow Garage is accelerating the field of robotics, not just by making their PR2 Betas available, but by encouraging the shared development of robots and advocating an open source approach."
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Willow Garage To Give Away 10 Open Source Robots

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  • Very nice. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by aldld (1663705) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @01:23AM (#30816298) Homepage
    Now I just need one of these in a hamster ball.
  • Duh (Score:2, Interesting)

    by benjamindees (441808) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @01:46AM (#30816374) Homepage

    Make it self-replicating. Program it to build and operate all of the machinery necessary to make it's component parts, and then to assemble itself.

  • by Walt Dismal (534799) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @04:10AM (#30817000)
    I have to defend them. I've been over to Willow Garage and seen their machines. These are serious platforms capable of tooling around a building on their own, solid hardware. Not some Lego Mindstorms. While yes one can develop some robotics in a virtual space, eventually you do have to send these things out into the real world to do things. Willow Garage has put a lot of effort into these. Note that they support the OpenCV vision software and these robots can tool around analyzing things in the space around them. And they have arms and hands. I can see where they could operate on the floors in a hospital delivering things, maybe even towing a wheelchair, take parts from place to place, do things 24/7 where a person couldn't. Legs aren't needed for all robotics.
  • by sourcerror (1718066) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @06:45AM (#30817648)
    It was demonstrated [youtube.com] that with proper software it can learn and generalise movements. That's a huge achievement, and we could argue that can be called quasi autonomous. (Well, for decision making we can use classical AI techinques like expert systems.)
  • by tequesta (442108) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @07:20AM (#30817808)

    What's the point of using simulated robots in a simulated environment? What's the point of having thousands of DOF to "play with"? Currently, most robots are not application platforms but toys. This is one of the very few robots that can actually help in developing working, robust autonomous robotic applications, and they're giving it away for free. That's not to be knocked.

  • Commercial interests (Score:4, Interesting)

    by WindBourne (631190) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @08:44AM (#30818170) Journal
    They are actually only giving this to RD groups. It seems like the smart thing is to ask for ideas on how to commercialize and then push that. For example, they are pushing personal assistant. Yet, the last thing that I would want, as a company, is a robot that works closely with ppl esp. unsupervised. Instead, I can think of several areas that might be far more workable. The west has stabilized their populations and in some cases are on the downward trend. Germany and Japan are 2 of these. Western EU and America have quit growth except for immigration. This can be used to decide where to focus. For example:
    1. Robotic cook and dishwasher for restaurants. In particular, at resort locations. Take the example of European ski locations vs. lakes, camping areas, etc. A set of robots can work in the winter in a restaurant at a ski location. In the summer, they are re-located to a restaurant by the ocean. These give the ability to cope with varying demands better than having to hire for worst case, but then having to either cut hours, or even layoff part way into the season.
    2. In Colorado, we have Horse stables claiming that they MUST hire illegals and pay them less than minimum, or they would not be in business. Their original carp was that they could not find ppl, but it turns out that they could not find them that would work for less than minimum. But a robot in there could do the work day and night. The same would be true of any other animal operation. More importantly, these are ideal for figuring out how to clean up industrial waste. If you can create robots that can adopt to the situation in a horse barn, or a pig feedlot, they can adopt to many others. These would also allow better adoption on the moon and mars. After all, you want to figure out how to walk around crap, not through.
  • by radtea (464814) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @10:55AM (#30819170)

    Automated mine clearance also comes to mind.

    They are focusing on economically productive activities, not deadweight loss activities like the military, but mine clearance is more important to civilian populations than the the military, so it might count.

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