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Willow Garage To Give Away 10 Open Source Robots

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the bend-to-the-tempest dept.

Open Source 44

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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no rfid chip, no brain chip, i choose life (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30816228)

so NO to the lizards!

Linux should be banned (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30816230)

Women make up 51 percent of the population, and because of this, Linux
should be banned in government. Operating Systems like Linux discriminate
against women because of a built in difficulty compared with Windows and
Apple's OS X.

Women pay taxes, and therefore shouldn't be discriminated against in getting
employment with government agencies. If these agencies had used Windows or
OS X, more women would be able to persue dreams of a full time job in
government. Linux is by its nature a man's domain. Women are designed to use
social interaction and emotions to deal with complex tasks, things the
command line are ill suited.

OS X, and Windows have friendly and female-intuitive designs that take into
account a woman's understanding of objects, ie. folders, desktops, Clippy,
the XP search dog. These help women operate the computer by giving her a
relationship with these icons, and helpful animated pets. It makes a woman
feel at home with her computer by allowing her to relate to it.

Linux, on the other hand is designed for command line and programming. Sure,
it may have a fugly GUI to hide its true being, but to get any serious work
done you must know a bunch of arcane commands with hundreds of options that
change with every command. Something like this: chmod a+rwx. Only engineers
can understand this. And most engineers are still men. This puts the female
population at a great disadvantage when applying for work. Men know this,
and that's why they deliberately try to install linux in the workplace.

How would women's groups react when they read the studies that are being
commissioned by industry on this very subject? Surely, women, when they
learn of this, will outvote men and ban linux from the government.

Re:Linux should be banned (-1, Offtopic)

ustolemyname (1301665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30816258)

Hilarious

Operating Systems like Linux discriminate against women because of a built in difficulty compared with Windows and Apple's OS X.

So, you're saying we shouldn't discriminate against women, but calling them stupid is okay?

Re:Linux should be banned (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30816260)

Why do niggers always have tinted windows? They don't, it's the black rubbing off.

Re:Linux should be banned (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30816274)

I got news for these niggers. They can screw 100 degenerate White sluts a day and that doesn't change the fact that they're still just niggers. Its like the niggers who go out and buy Cadillacs or BMWs imagining people will think they're "high class" or rich. LOL! When people see a nigger riding around in an expensive car, they automatically know its nobody of any value or class, just a dumb nigger pretending to be white.

Re:Linux should be banned (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30816306)

What does PONTIAC stand for? Poor Old Nigger Thinks It's A Cadillac!

What kind of shape is that (3, Funny)

davester666 (731373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30816296)

You can't put a very realistic human face/body over that robot to make a Terminator. How exactly is one to start the apocalypse without an army of humanoid robots?

Re:What kind of shape is that (2, Insightful)

aldld (1663705) | more than 4 years ago | (#30816314)

If these robots really want to start an apocalypse, they'll have to be able to figure that out themselves.

Re:What kind of shape is that (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 4 years ago | (#30818438)

And I for one welcome our apocalypse-starting robot overlords and I'd like to remind them that as a trusted Slashdot poster, I can be helpful in rounding up others to contribute realistic human faces and bodies for concealing their metallic limbs.

Is Skynet GPL? (1)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 4 years ago | (#30820040)

That would explain a lot of things ... like the thick Austrian accent on some T800 Models (Worldwide contributors), the easily accessible processor (Open Hardware design ...), the obsession with appearing naked after time travel (I can't code with my pants on), and the suspiciously hot and anatomically correct TX and Cameron models ...

I just hope they are BSD licensed, In that way, I can copy Summer Glau and make my own "proprietary" version ;)

Very nice. (3, Interesting)

aldld (1663705) | more than 4 years ago | (#30816298)

Now I just need one of these in a hamster ball.

Free? (1)

Jethro (14165) | more than 4 years ago | (#30816318)

I'll take four.

Re:Free? (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#30816490)

It'll be the best prom ever!

Re:Free? (3, Funny)

Jethro (14165) | more than 4 years ago | (#30816512)

I wouldn't use such sophisticated machines for something as trivial as a prom! I have a driveway that needs shovelling!

Re:Free? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30828222)

Maybe from your perspective, of a simple repetitive up-down motion, it does not look like sophisticated work.
But if you ever have any real sex, good luck making her have an orgasm! (I assume you don’t want the woman to be replaced by a machine! ;)

Re:Free? (1)

KlaymenDK (713149) | more than 4 years ago | (#30817506)

I misread that statement, something with a swapped "r" and "o", and an "n" instead of the "m" ... gawd I'm reading too much Slashdot.

Re:Free? (1)

vegiVamp (518171) | more than 4 years ago | (#30817696)

You're only making it worse, you know.

Duh (2, Interesting)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 4 years ago | (#30816374)

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.

Re:Duh (1)

Thoughts from Englan (1212556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30817694)

Did you ever watch the Sourcerers Apprentice section of Fantasia? Because if not, I politely suggest you do.

Re:Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30817900)

Did you ever watch the Sourcerers Apprentice section of Fantasia? Because if not, I politely suggest you do.

You're afraid that the robot would make brooms?!?

What's wrong with that?

Re:Duh (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 4 years ago | (#30820012)

Did you ever watch the Sourcerers Apprentice section of Fantasia? Because if not, I politely suggest you do.

He was a programmer? Or were you talking about a magician? [reference.com]

Re:Duh (1)

Thoughts from Englan (1212556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30821656)

I was refering, of course, to this [youtube.com] but of course my analogy, like my spelling, failed due to the fact that the plethora of broomsticks results from them regenerating from parts of the original rather than from self replication. Apparently my humerous intentions also missed their target.

Re:Duh (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 4 years ago | (#30821938)

I knew what you were referring to and that it was a joke. I was just being a grammar-nazi.

Apparently my humerous intentions also missed their target.

Please tell me that was intentional [reference.com] ...

Re:Duh (1)

Thoughts from Englan (1212556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30822040)

Just a touch of the Dyslexia which runs in my family I’m afraid (why did they choose such a difficult to spell word for that)

Videos! (5, Informative)

a0schweitzer (1702404) | more than 4 years ago | (#30816384)

Videos of the robot [willowgarage.com] doing some pretty cool stuff. If I was into robotics, I'd definately want to be playing with one of these!

Re:Videos! (1)

LordVader717 (888547) | more than 4 years ago | (#30816552)

I'm not into robotics, but I still want to play with one. I bet he can beat the shit out of ROB [wikipedia.org] .

remote controlled ... (2, Insightful)

Lazy Jones (8403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30817174)

... videos of robots doing "cool things" while being remote controlled (i.e. not moving autonomously) are disappointing. IMHO it's far more interesting to see what researchers are doing with autonomous (virtual) robots in a simulated 3d environment, even though it isn't as visually pleasing.

Re:remote controlled ... (2, Interesting)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.)

Re:remote controlled ... (2, Insightful)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 4 years ago | (#30817678)

On the other hand they're also demonstrating the hardware, and in that case being remote controlled is irrelevant. Picking up chinaware without breaking it isn't such a trivial thing.

Personification of a robot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30816392)

The robot in the first pic looks like it is flipping me the bird.

Two Pincers and no legs? (1)

rebelscience (1717928) | more than 4 years ago | (#30816626)

Forget it. I can do excellent AI research on a desktop computer using simulated robots in a simulated environment and still have more degrees of freedom to play with than this PR2. Give me a six-legged robot with lots of DOF (an arm with a four-fingered hand would be nice) and a battery of joint and touch sensors and I might get excited. I'm sorry to sound so cynical but it seems that Willow garage is looking for some free (or real cheap) software development. But hey, if you need a real robot for a research thesis or some special project, then go for it.

Re:Two Pincers and no legs? (3, Interesting)

Walt Dismal (534799) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Two Pincers and no legs? (2, Insightful)

SpinyNorman (33776) | more than 4 years ago | (#30820098)

Hospital delivery robots already commericaly exist - capable of moving about automomously between hospital floors (calling the elevator if needed), and avoiding obstacles like people walking down the corridoor.

I would think that in a hospital environment you want something that is smart enough to do a well defined job without screwing up (e.g. running into people or getting in the way), but not TOO smart... Do you really want a robot in a hospital trundling around on it's own initiative looking for a place to plug itself in (as the Willow Garage one can do)!? These seem like very nice machines, but more suited to research rather than life or death type environments.

In general I think you don't want robots to be too independent until AI has got to the point that they can avoid doing stupid things. In the meantime, we're better off with dumb ones that can do simple tasks like delivering drugs or fetching beer, maybe even driving cars, but not so smart that their behavior is no longer predictable.

Re:Two Pincers and no legs? (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 4 years ago | (#30820216)

In general I think you don't want people to be too independent until they get to the point that they can avoid doing stupid things.

Of course, this implies that we incarcerate 90% of the human population. Think we could get some robots to help with that?

Re:Two Pincers and no legs? (2, Interesting)

tequesta (442108) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Shover Bot (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30817162)

I notice that Willow Garage is near a large VA Hospital. Perhaps the robot could be used to push old people out of harms way?

Now if only (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30817448)

i could win the Real Doll giveaway sweepstakes

Hardware Specs (4, Informative)

Cycon (11899) | more than 4 years ago | (#30817542)

The hardware specifications [willowgarage.com] alone are pretty impressive:

Computation The PR2 robot has two eight-core i7 Xeon system servers on-board, each with 24 GB of RAM, a 500 GB internal hard drive, and a 1.5 TB external removable log drive. The computers and most of the sensors communicate over a 16-port gigabit Ethernet hub with a 32-gigabit backplane. The robot also has an on-board, dual-radio router that can be bridged into a WLAN, as well as a secondary, stand-alone access point for laptop or smart phone access.

Also:

The PR2 ships with sensors in the head, arms, and base. The head contains two stereo camera pairs coupled with an LED pattern projector, a 5MP camera, a tilting laser range finder, and an IMU. The forearms each contain an ethernet-based, wide-angle camera, while the grippers have three-axis accelerometers and pressure sensor arrays on the fingertips. The base has a fixed laser range finder.

That's a fair bit of grunt to throw at the OpenCV [willowgarage.com] libraries, which is listed under their Supported Projects in the Software [willowgarage.com] section. No surprise either, Willow Garage has taken over hosting the project from Intel.

Re:Hardware Specs (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#30822130)

With that kind of processing power, they're probably running their entire website off of one of their robots.

Re:Hardware Specs (1)

shervinemami (1270718) | more than 4 years ago | (#30823896)

The PR2 robot has two eight-core i7 Xeon system servers on-board, each with 24 GB of RAM ..... over a 16-port gigabit Ethernet hub

Thats what happens when Google funds a robot: it becomes a mobile server rack!

But I must admit that its pretty impressive computing power to have on a mobile robot! Most research robots have relatively outdated embedded computing hardware compared to consumer laptops, so this will allow much more detailed algorithms to run.

Commercial interests (3, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#30818170)

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.

Re:Commercial interests (1)

berglin (846569) | more than 4 years ago | (#30818812)

Reminds me of Manna [marshallbrain.com]

Re:Commercial interests (2, Interesting)

radtea (464814) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

I want a robot (1)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | more than 4 years ago | (#30818286)

If I got a robot I'd force it to do my homework!

just kidding of course but it's a really cool idea and a good way to advance the field.
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