Willow Garage's PR2: The $400,000 Cyberman

By  |  Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at 9:00 pm

When I wrote about my misadventures with Anybots’ QB remote-presence robot recently, I mentioned Willow Garage’s similar Texai. The company doesn’t have plans to sell Texais anytime soon, but it’s announcing that it’s accepting orders for its primary bot, PR2.

Unlike QB and Texai–which are basically remote-controllable Webcams on wheels–PR2 is autonomous, uses 3D machine vision to see the world around it, and has the arms it needs to manipulate objects. Which means it can be taught to engage in all sorts of useful activities which QB and Texai can’t.

Such as playing pool:

And fetching beer:

How much would you pay for a PR2 of your own? Well, the list price is $400,000, but Willow Garage says it wants to reward organizations that are serious about open-source development. So it’s going to give selected buyers who can document their open-source bona fides a discounted price of $280,000. It says it expects early purchasers to be academic labs, industrial research facilities, and other outfits involved in exploration of the future of personal robotics.

I won’t be plunking down my money, but I look forward to seeing what PR2’s owners teach it to do.

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