The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

Clearpath Robotics to Provide PR2 Support Through 2016

Afraid of breaking your PR2? Don't worry, support is available

2 min read
Clearpath Robotics to Provide PR2 Support Through 2016

Ever since, um, stuff happened at Willow Garage about a year ago, there's been some question as to the fate of the 40 or so PR2s out there and those still in stock (yes, they're still for sale). It's not difficult to imagine that existing PR2 owners and prospective buyers want to be assured that support is available and will remain available for a reasonable period of time. If you're one of those people, good news: Canadian company Clearpath Robotics has been selected to provide PR2 support through 2016.

You may remember Clearpath from such robots as the Kingfisher and the Grizzly, and seeing as they build a variety of advanced research-grade robotic systems, they seem like a good fit to do all of the PR2 service and support going forward. From the press release:

Willow Garage, the developer of PR2, announces the immediate transfer of support and services responsibilities to Clearpath Robotics, a leader in mobile robotics for research and development. Willow Garage’s development of PR2 along with the Robot Operating System (ROS) has produced the world’s leading mobile manipulation platform for research and development. Willow Garage will continue to sell its remaining stock of PR2 systems while Clearpath Robotics now becomes the sole provider of hardware and software support to current and future PR2 customers.

Clearpath has committed to at least three years of support, which will get you and your PR2 until the end of 2016 in good health. After that, Clearpath will determine whether further support is warranted, which is another way of saying that whether PR2s are supported after 2017 depends on whether enough people are still using them three years from now.

Not to be pessimistic or anything, but the PR2 was introduced in 2010, and seven years is a long time in the hardware world. With solid support, though, it's certainly conceivable that we'll have these amazing robots still contributing to research several years into the future.

[ Clearpath Robotics ]

The Conversation (0)

The Bionic-Hand Arms Race

The prosthetics industry is too focused on high-tech limbs that are complicated, costly, and often impractical

12 min read
A photograph of a young woman with brown eyes and neck length hair dyed rose gold sits at a white table. In one hand she holds a carbon fiber robotic arm and hand. Her other arm ends near her elbow. Her short sleeve shirt has a pattern on it of illustrated hands.

The author, Britt Young, holding her Ottobock bebionic bionic arm.

Gabriela Hasbun. Makeup: Maria Nguyen for MAC cosmetics; Hair: Joan Laqui for Living Proof

In Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, members of the fictitious Baltimore Gun Club, all disabled Civil War veterans, restlessly search for a new enemy to conquer. They had spent the war innovating new, deadlier weaponry. By the war’s end, with “not quite one arm between four persons, and exactly two legs between six,” these self-taught amputee-weaponsmiths decide to repurpose their skills toward a new projectile: a rocket ship.

The story of the Baltimore Gun Club propelling themselves to the moon is about the extraordinary masculine power of the veteran, who doesn’t simply “overcome” his disability; he derives power and ambition from it. Their “crutches, wooden legs, artificial arms, steel hooks, caoutchouc [rubber] jaws, silver craniums [and] platinum noses” don’t play leading roles in their personalities—they are merely tools on their bodies. These piecemeal men are unlikely crusaders of invention with an even more unlikely mission. And yet who better to design the next great leap in technology than men remade by technology themselves?

Keep Reading ↓Show less