Free PR2 Robots Offered to Open Source Robotics Researchers

10 lucky research organizations will stand to benefit from Willow Garage's PR2 Beta Program, under which they will each be granted free use of one PR2 robot and earn the privilege to participate in the advancement of open source robotics development.

Willow Garage, an organization dedicated to the development of robotics hardware and open source software, has put up the PR2 Beta Program to enable breakthroughs in personal robotics, expand the open source robotics community, develop reusable components and tools, and explore new applications for personal robots.


These initiatives are aimed at eventually building safe personal robots that can aid and interact with humans. For instance, such robots can assist the elderly, aid people with disabilities, help in household duties, and perform operational activities like picking and packing, stocking products on shelves, monitoring inventory, and retrieving items.

The PR2 is a beta robot platform that works with the open source ROS (Robot Operating System).

Since the PR2 and the ROS were designed by Willow Garage based on the open source model, recipients of the free robots are enjoined to contribute to the open source community.With the free PR2 robots, researchers can eliminate the cost and hassles of producing the hardware (i.e., the robot itself) and focus instead in the software aspect of developing a robot.

Practitioners of open source robotics development don't work in isolation. Instead, they form part of a community whose members share information regarding successes, issues and insights. The community of PR2 users, in particular, hold teleconference meetings every two months to share the such information.

Advocates of ROS believe it has the potential of doing to robots what Windows did to the PC. This can be possible if an overwhelming majority of robotics researchers will use ROS. This initiative by Willow Garage is one big step towards that direction.


See the PR2 in action in the video below.


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