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Willow Garage Introduces PR2 SE, Half the Arms at Half the Price

If you don't need a fully armed PR2, the PR2 SE is much more affordable

2 min read
Willow Garage Introduces PR2 SE, Half the Arms at Half the Price

Yesterday, Willow Garage announced the availability of an entirely new robot. Or maybe not an entirely new robot. The PR2 SE is essentially the same as a PR2, except that (as you may have noticed from the picture) it's only got one arm.

Despite having only half the armament of the original PR2, the SE boasts the same overall capabilities, along with an "updated sensor suite" that includes an integrated Microsoft Kinect. Lack of an entire arm may seem like a fairly significant issue for a robot, but many things that you can do with two arms you can also do with one, it just may take longer or require a bit more creativity.

If you do end up desperately needing another arm for your SE, you can buy one as an upgrade from Willlow Garage. Or you could build a slightly less fancy version on your own. Or, you could get yourself a LASER CANNON and bolt that in instead! YEAH! And anyway, as long as you make sure that the robot is only visible from the right side in your lab, you'll be able to fool people into thinking that you've got an original PR2, and at the end of the day, that's what really counts.

Taking a big chunk out of the robot also takes a big chunk out of the price, which is the whole point of the SE version. The base price of the new PR2 SE is $285,000, and with Willow's 30 percent open source discount award, that comes down to just under $200,000. This is half the price of the fully armed and operational regular PR2, which costs $400,000 if you buy it straight up. So If my calculations are correct, this means that I should be able to get a PR2 with zero arms for free, right? Please...?

[ PR2 SE ]

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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
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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
DarkGray

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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