Suitable Technologies, the Willow Garage spinout that created the Beam remote presence system, announced today that it has "retained a majority of employees from Willow Garage." A press release sent out this morning and also posted on Willow Garage's blog says Suitable will "use the combined resources to further product development, sales, and customer support." As for Willow itself, the release only says it will "continue to support customers of its PR2 personal robotics platform and sell its remaining stock of PR2 systems."
Here's the press release in full:
Suitable Technologies, Inc., has retained a majority of employees from Willow Garage, Inc. to increase and enhance the development of Suitable Technologies’ Beam remote presence system. Suitable Technologies will use the combined resources to further product development, sales and customer support.Beam enables users to travel instantly to remote locations using video conferencing technology, over a WiFi or cellular 4G LTE connection, that users can drive. Beam is the market’s most effective and reliable solution for remote presence, providing uncompromising quality with a robust offering of features.Scott Hassan, founder of both Willow Garage and Suitable Technologies, said, “I am excited to bring together the teams of Willow Garage and Suitable Technologies to provide the most advanced remote presence technology to people around the world.”Willow Garage will continue to support customers of its PR2 personal robotics platform and sell its remaining stock of PR2 systems. Interest in PR2 systems or support should continue to be directed to Willow Garage through its portal at http://www.willowgarage.com.By increasing resources in research and development, production and customer support, Suitable Technologies is positioned to successfully serve demands for Beam remote presence technology. To learn more about Beam, please visit http://www.suitabletech.com.
It's great that, by moving to Suitable, a lot of talented engineers will remain in the field of robotics (instead of going to work for, say, Google or Facebook). And it's also great that Suitable is focusing on an advanced robot that can be commercially viable, to allow the company to be financially sustainable and able to grow, and employ even more engineers. We'll be talking to Suitable soon to learn more about their plans in terms of both business and technology and will report back.
Finally, we're glad to hear that support for the PR2 will continue for now, though we feel a bit sad about the robot's uncertain future. The PR2, along with ROS, was among the most important milestones in robotics in recent years, and we'd always hoped to see a PR3 one day. Back in February, Willow stated that it had "decided to enter the world of commercial opportunities with an eye to becoming a self-sustaining company," but with today's announcement, we don't know where things stand in terms of future PR2 improvements.
Obviously, there's a lot going on here that we're just not sure about, and we'll let you know what's going on as soon as we can.
[ PRWeb ]
Evan Ackerman is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Since 2007, he has written over 6,000 articles on robotics and technology. He has a degree in Martian geology and is excellent at playing bagpipes.
Erico Guizzo is the digital product manager at IEEE Spectrum. An IEEE Member, he is an electrical engineer by training and has a master’s degree in science writing from MIT.