UPDATE 11/12/13 3:03 p.m. EST: Our latest stories on Willow Garage's dismantling, including an exclusive interview with founder Scott Hassan:
Majority of Willow Garage Employees Move to Suitable Technologies, PR2 Still Supported
Interview: Scott Hassan on Willow Garage and the Future of Suitable Technologies
And for more on Willow Garage's spin-offs, read:
UBR-1 Robot From Unbounded Robotics Revolutionizes Affordable Mobile Manipulation
Startup Spotlight: Industrial Perception Building 3D Vision Guided Robots
Redwood Robotics Brings Big Names to Next Gen Robot Arms
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UPDATE 02/11/13 11:37 p.m. EST:
Willow has just released a response, which we're posting below in full:
Willow Garage has decided to enter the world of commercial opportunities with an eye to becoming a self-sustaining company. This is an important change to our funding model.
The success of the PR2 personal robot and of ROS will continue. There are close to 50 PR2 robots in the world and Willow Garage support of the platform will not diminish. And of course, ROS, as an open source platform, will continue independent of our business model choices. In addition to Willow Garage, its supporters include the Open Source Robotics Foundation and all the other contributors in the ROS community (academic, industrial and individual) who have made it the platform of choice for Robotics.
While Willow declined to comment on our original story before we posted it, as far as we can tell Willow's response doesn't directly contradict any of the information that multiple sources (including current Willow employees and past Willow employees) have told us. Our concern is that if the change of funding model is as simple and as innocuous as Willow's post makes it sound, we would not have received multiple, consistent tips over the weekend that something very serious had happened. Our original headline, stating that the company was to shut down, reflected the information that these sources gave to us. We now have decided to update it in response to Willow's official statement. We hope to receive further clarification from the company.
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IEEE Spectrum has learned that Willow Garage, the Silicon Valley robotics powerhouse that brought the world the PR2, ROS, TurtleBot, and several robotics spinoffs, will likely be dissolving within the next few months.