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Willow Garage Announces PR2 Recipients

The powers that be at Willow Garage have made up their minds about who gets to participate in their PR2 Open Beta Program, and revealed that the total cost of the program is $4,400,000 USD.  The selected proposals seek to improve the PR2′s capabilities in some surprising ways.

The PR2 will be learning how to tidy-up around the home (such as clearing tables, doing laundry, and putting away groceries), how to open drawers and refrigerators, flip on lamps and light switches, and to recognize different objects.  This sort of work could allow the PR2 to prepare a meal and empty a dishwasher.  The PR2 will also be taught how to work with humans through natural language, as well as with other robots.  Bosch, the only company involved in the program so far, is developing a tactile skin that will allow the PR2 to sense its environment.

Video (Mirror):

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For a full breakdown of the proposals head past the break or visit the source link below.

[source: Willow Garage]

Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg with the proposal TidyUpRobot

The University of Freiburg’s strength in mapping has led to multiple open-source libraries in wide use. Their group will program the PR2 to do tidy-up tasks like clearing a table, while working on difficult underlying capabilities, like understanding how drawers and refrigerators open, how to recognize different types of objects, and how to integrate this information with the robot’s map. Their goal is to detect, grasp, and put away objects with very high reliability, and reproduce these results at other PR2 Beta Program sites.

Bosch with the proposal Developing the Personal Robotics Market: Enabling New Applications Through Novel Sensors and Shared Autonomy

Bosch will bring their expertise in manufacturing, sensing technologies and consumer products. Bosch will be making robotic sensors available to members of the PR2 Beta Program, including a limited number of “skins” that will give the PR2 the ability to feel its environment. Bosch will also make their PR2 remotely accessible and will expand on the libraries they’ve released for ROS.

Georgia Institute of Technology with the proposal Assistive Mobile Manipulation for Older Adults at Home

The Healthcare Robotics Lab and collaborators at Georgia Tech will be placing the PR2 in an “Aware Home” to study how robots can help with homecare and creative assistive capabilities for older adults. Their research includes creating easier ways for adults to interact with robots, and enabling robots to interact with everyday objects like drawers, lamps, and light switches. Their human-robot interaction focus will help ensure that the software development is closely connected to real-world needs.

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven with the proposal Unified Framework for Task Specification, Control and Coordination for Mobile Manipulation

KU Leuven in Belgium is a key player in the open-source robotics community. As one of the founding institutions for the Orocos Project, they will be improving the tools and libraries used to program robots in ROS, by, for example, integrating ROS with Blender. They will also be working on getting the PR2 and people to perform tasks together, like carrying objects through a crowded environment.

MIT CSAIL with the proposal Mobile Manipulation in Human-Centered Environments

The diverse MIT CSAIL group will use the PR2 to study the key capabilities needed by robots that operate in human-centered environments, such as safe navigation, interaction with humans via natural language, object recognition, and planning for complex goals. Their work will allow robots to build the maps they need in order to move around in buildings as large as MIT’s 11-story Stata Center. They will also program the PR2 to put away groceries and do simple cleaning tasks.

Stanford University with the proposal STAIR on PR2

PR1 was developed in Kenneth Salisbury’s lab at Stanford, and ROS was developed from the STAIR (Stanford AI Robot) Project. We’re very excited that the PR2 will become the new platform for the STAIR Project’s innovative research. Their team will work on several applications, which include taking inventory, retrieving items scattered about a building, and clearing a table after a meal.

Technische Universität München with the proposal CRAM: Cognitive Robot Abstract Machine

TUM will research giving the PR2 the artificial intelligence skills and 3D perception to reason about what it is doing while it performs various kitchen tasks. These combined improvements will help the PR2 perform more complicated tasks like setting a table, emptying a dishwasher, preparing meals, and other kitchen-related tasks.

University of California, Berkeley with the proposal PR2 Beta Program: A Platform for Personal Robotics

The PR2 is now known as the “Towel-Folding Robot“, thanks to the impressive efforts of Pieter Abbeel’s lab at Berkeley. In two short months, they were able to get the PR2 to fold fifty towels in a row. Berkeley will tackle the much more difficult challenge of doing laundry, from dirty laundry piles to neatly folded clothes. In addition, their team is interested in hierarchical planning, object recognition, and assembly and manufacturing tasks (e.g. IKEA products) through learning by demonstration.

University of Pennsylvania with the proposal PR2GRASP: From Perception and Reasoning to Grasping

The GRASP Lab proposal aims to tackle some of the challenges facing household robotics. These challenges include tracking people and planning for navigation in dynamic environments, and transferring handheld objects between robots and humans. Their contributions will include giving PR2 a tool belt to change its gripper on the fly, helping it track and navigate around people, and performing difficult two-arm tasks like opening spring-loaded doors.

University of Southern California with the proposal Persistent and Persuasive Personal Robots (P^3R): Towards Networked, Mobile, Assistive Robotics

USC has already demonstrated teaching the PR2 basic motor skills so that it can adapt to different situations and tasks, such as pouring a cup. They will continue to expand on this work in imitation learning and building and refining skill libraries, while also doing research in human-robot interaction and self-calibration for sensors.

University of Tokyo, Jouhou System Kougaku (JSK) Laboratory with the proposal Autonomous Motion Planning for Daily Tasks in Human Environments using Collaborating Robots

The JSK Laboratory at the University of Tokyo is one of the top humanoid robotics labs in the world. Their goal is to see robots safely and autonomously perform daily, human-like tasks such as retrieving objects and cleaning up domestic environments. They’ll also be working on getting the PR2 to work together with other robots, as well as integrating the ROS, EusLisp, and OpenRAVE frameworks.

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