NYtimes article about a robot startup.
The article contains some kind words by various A.I. profs (Andrew Ng, William L. Whittaker, Nils Nilsson, and Sebastian Thrun — Thrun is on the board). The robot can apparently repeatedly and reliably open doors, navigate normal rooms, and plug itself in.
The company has an open-source (BSD licensed) project to create a robotics framework, including a low-level messaging framework called ROS (Robotic Operating System), and a set of “ROS-enabled” packages (some of which were created by various other research teams). The project also claims to support some external projects, including OpenCV (machine vision), TREX (executive function; Teleo-Reactive Executive Player), and Player (robotics framework and simulation environment).
The company is working on a robot called PR2, which will be a two-armed mobile robot “development platform for mobile manipulation research and applications”. Willow Garage will “issue a Call for Proposals — allowing researchers…to apply to secure a PR2 development platform… Approximately ten PR2s will be made available through the Willow Garage beta program.”. So I’m guessing the PR2 will be out of my price range.
Willow Garage has a blog.