Following Willow Garage’s lead, the Fraunhofer Institute is preparing an open source research initiative with its own household service robot Care-O-bot 3, though they won’t be giving them away for free. Researchers can work with a simulated robot (in Gazebo) and access the community software repository, both of which are being made available now. When a physical Care-O-bot is required users will be able to schedule remote tests through a webportal for free (or rent/purchase the robot for their own lab). We’d all love Fraunhofer if they’d give some robots away for free, but even being able to work with one online will no doubt spur interest in robotics labs around the world. They’ll be hosting an information day on March 15th 2010 for those interested in the project.
Oh, and after seeing Care-O-bot 3 without his clothes on, I think the design team should consider giving him a less boxy appearance. A more form-fitting exoskeleton would also give his head and neck a more humanoid quality. And we love humanoids! An informational video follows after the break.