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)

How Robots Can Help Us Act and Feel Younger

Toyota’s Gill Pratt on enhancing independence in old age

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An illustration of a woman making a salad with robotic arms around her holding vegetables and other salad ingredients.
Dan Page

By 2050, the global population aged 65 or more will be nearly double what it is today. The number of people over the age of 80 will triple, approaching half a billion. Supporting an aging population is a worldwide concern, but this demographic shift is especially pronounced in Japan, where more than a third of Japanese will be 65 or older by midcentury.

Toyota Research Institute (TRI), which was established by Toyota Motor Corp. in 2015 to explore autonomous cars, robotics, and “human amplification technologies,” has also been focusing a significant portion of its research on ways to help older people maintain their health, happiness, and independence as long as possible. While an important goal in itself, improving self-sufficiency for the elderly also reduces the amount of support they need from society more broadly. And without technological help, sustaining this population in an effective and dignified manner will grow increasingly difficult—first in Japan, but globally soon after.

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