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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
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

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 ]

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?

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