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September 03, 2012

Willow Garage PR2 Progress

Yesterday I was at the Tech Museum of Innovation in downtown San Jose and saw and programmed a Willow Garage PR2 robot.

I spoke with some Willow Garage employees.

Here is some information I got from speaking with the Willow Garage employees.

* There are now 50 employees of Willow Garage
* There are 60 PR2 robots deployed around on the world
* A full price PR2 is $400,000
* There are two spinoff robot companies from Willow Garage (Turtlebot and Suitable Technologies
* Suitable will have the tablet for a head robot, which may companies are working on. In 22 days Suitable will announce something and launch their website. they are focused on using the tablet bot for telepresence.
* Kinect and Leap Motion devices for motion capture are making the sensors far cheaper than the planar laser scanning devices.
* higher resolution cameras are currently not helpful for robots. The algorithms that are currently used would analyze a pixel at a time and higher resolution would increase the computational costs. The PR2 has a 5 megapixel camera now and it is never used because the low resolution VGA camera is good enough
* If there were smart radio tags used to label an environment that would make it easier for a robot to operate. Thin Film Norway has smart radio tags which will be available for pennies. This would be useful for environments like a business or industrial setting where the environment can be controlled to allow for complete labeling. There would be the need to control any dynamic elements (ie unpredicatable people)

Videos showing the PR2 performing common tasks

















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