Documenting the Coming Singularity

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Opening Doors on the Way to a Personal Robot - Start saving for yours today

NYT - June 8, 2009, by John Markoff

POWERING UP A prototype of Willow Garage’s PR2 robot recharging itself at the company’s headquarters.

Consider it one small step — or a roll, actually — for a robot, one not giant, but significant step for robotics.

William L. Whittaker, a Carnegie Mellon University roboticist and the winner of a Defense Department urban challenge robot driving contest last year, said it was “unprecedented” for a robot to navigate in a building reliably and repeatedly recharge itself. “These guys are the real deal,” he said.

Willow Garage, a Silicon Valley robotics research group, said that its experimental PR2 robot, which has wheels and can travel at speeds up to a mile and a quarter per hour, was able to open and pass through 10 doors and plug itself into 10 standard wall sockets in less than an hour. In a different test, the same robot completed a marathon in the company’s office, traveling 26.2 miles. PR2 will not compete with humans yet; it took more than four days.

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