Everyone loves the beer-fetching Willow Garage PR2 robot, as seen in our recent gallery of its greatest achievements. Evidently, it even loves itself. When developers at Bosch Research gave it a pen, it drew a handsome self-portrait.
The guys over at Willow Garage have already proved their PR2 to be a worthy weekend companion, teaching it to play billiards, fetch beer, and even to clean up after a party. A team of UC Berkeley researchers more interested in domestic applications for robotics has also shown that PR2 can be a handy household companion during the slower parts of the week, namely laundry day. Now, they've shown that if you give PR2 a sock it can employ its keen ability for repetitive hand motions to that other regularly recurring chore: pairing socks! (wait, what did you think we were talking about?).
After showing it off to the world in a series of tantalizing videos, Willow Garage has finally announced that they will be making their PR2 robot available for sale next month.
This is the humanoid robot that we've seen shooting pool, folding laundry, fetching beer from the fridge, and even finding an outlet and plugging itself in for a well-deserved recharge. We've compiled a gallery of our favorite PR2 moments.
Proving that robots really do have a place at the pub -- time to change your archaic anti-droid policies, Mos Eisley Cantina -- the team over at Willow Garage has programmed one of its PR2 robots to play a pretty impressive game of pool. More impressively, they did it in just under one week.
This laundry-folding robot may not find many fans at the local laundromat, but only because it takes so long in holding up each towel for scrutiny before folding. Still, its fussiness speaks to a special care for laundry -- or painstaking programming routines -- that has won our hearts. You see, folding isn't a chore for this robot. It's an art.
For those worried about a dystopian future where humans serve robot overlords, there has always been one brake on full robot autonomy: power. Whether it’s the batteries in a Roomba or the fuel in a Predator drone, robots always relied on humans for their energy. Now, thanks to a company started by one of the founders of Google, robots are heading for more self-sufficiency than ever before.