Willow Garage, the robotics company from California had launched, earlier this year, its PR2 Beta program. Under the scheme they had distributed free of cost a number of its PR2 robots to various institutions based on some eligibility criteria they had developed. Lucky PR2 recipients were asked to use the robot to pursue their research and development goals and share their progress with the open source robotics community so that the community as a whole could benefit from and build on each other’s results.
There is good news for those who wanted one of the robots very badly but were not eligible to receive one under the scheme. Willow Garage has officially announced the commercial availability of their robots. And if you’ve got a proven track record in the open source community you could be eligible for a hefty discount.
PR2 is an abbreviation for Personal Robot 2. It is of human size with a mobile base, torso, head and two arms. The arms attached to the torso have seven degrees of freedom. It is equipped with several cameras, a texture projector and a Hokuyo laser range finder. The PR2 runs on software based on the Robot Operating System. Don’t expect the robot to help with the household chores right away. But with a bit of work you could have a PR2 doing all sorts of things for you.