if you build it, they may come– Willow Garage robotics software to be open source

Scott Cousins



Steve Cousins: Willow Garage blog

“‘Our model is to do this as a research project, and if people chart a product, we’ll spin off a company to start it,’ Cousins, a former IBM Research executive, said in a recent interview.”

Start-up warms up personal robots

By: Stephanie Olsen, News.com ZD Net 23 Oct. 2007

“Willow Garage, based in Menlo Park, California, is developing a hardware and software development platform for personal-assistant robots, autonomous boats and unmanned cars. The privately funded company … plans to make its robotics software open-source … to draw a community of developers to build applications in these respective fields.

* * *

The emergence of Willow Garage comes as commercial interest in robotics and cognitive computing is on the rise. iRobot, for example, has proven consumer demand for automated bots to clean floors. Microsoft also joined the fray last year with its Robotics Studio software, a commercial operating system for developing robots. Like Willow Garage, Microsoft hopes to seed the industry’s growth by providing standardized software to develop real or simulate robots.

* * *

Willow Garage also plans to start testing an autonomous, solar-powered boat within the next six weeks. David Meyers, head of Willow Garage’s autonomous vessel program and a former Navy captain, said the company hopes the boat will be used as a vehicle for ocean research, such as measuring climate change or mapping the oceans, without the need to support a research staff at sea. Because it’s powered by solar panels drawing energy from the sun, the team believes it will maintain endurance to last a year out in the ocean. Meyers said the company is still developing its artificial intelligent and collision-avoidance systems for the autonomous vessel.

‘”This changes the game for what’s possible in ocean research,’ Meyers said.

* * *

‘”We want to allow software people to be able to share ideas and a common robot platform. We think the field will advance much more quickly that way,” according to the personal robot team.’ [emphasis by Newcomb]… (full article)

Primary and Secondary Sources: Stephanie Olsen, News.com ZD Net

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Newcomb’s Commentary: Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.” Archimedes


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