May 17, 2010
Robots Attend This Year's X Prize Benefit for HumanityThe X Prize Foundation's annual event was held at San Francisco's Letterman Digital Arts Center this past weekend.
Coined as a radical event for humanity, X Prize Foundation's Chairman & CEO Peter Diamandis gathered some of the brightest visionaries in the areas of science, sustainability, entertainment, technology and medicine together under one roof.
Jaykumar Menon, Susan Celia Swan
Robin Williams, Renee Blodgett
Bruce Katz on the right
Jaykumar Menon and John Hagel meet a PR2
On the left, Keenan Wyrobek
Committee members who add their knowledge and time to the foundation include the likes of Sir Richard Branson, John Doerr, Scott Hassan, Reid Hoffman, Arianna Huffington, Chad Hurley, Steve Jurveton, Dean Kamen, Vinod Khosla, Eric Schmidt, Craig Vender and a host of others. In addition to Peter Diamandis, Sergey Brin and Larry Page co-chair and Larry gave a short speech.
The live auction included Taj Jaguar and Airship Ventures packages, Chihuly Glass Art, a Harry Winston Ocean timepiece, a Genome 100, a SpaceShipOne Full Size Replica, an ICON A5 Amphibious Aircraft, a Zero G with James Cameron and a Virgin Galactic Flight.
They announced a new prize platform called "X CHALLENGEs," which unlike an X Prize which focuses on a global paradigm change over a 3 to 8 year period, concentrates on a near-term technology advancement over a one to two year window. The amount raised is also smaller, ranging from $250K to $2.5 million. The hope is that when these contributions are properly used, the money raised can serve as a powerful economic tool for solving difficult challenges and bringing about authentic breakthroughs.
Bobby Yang & His Unrivaled Players performed during a cocktail reception while Willow Garage robots zipped around the floor. The PR2 robots 'played' with attendees and Robin Williams even managed to do the cha cha with a PR2 named "007."
Tony Robbins, Esther Dyson, Autodesk's Jonathan Knowles and a few others navigated Texai robots remotely from southern California and elsewhere in the Bay Area and as far away as Prague and Argentina. Below Tony says hello to Peter and laughs with some of the attendees.
Below is a video of Google's Sergey Brin who addressed the crowd from Utah via the screen of a Willow Garage Texai robot. He says hello and waves to Esther Dyson who was hanging out in another Texai propped in the front of the room. What an incredibly innovative and cool way to experience an event you cannot attend in real-time.
Listen to Ray Kurzweil talk about how far computers have come, and the power of a system that combines doctors with artificial intelligence which can bring high quality medical care to the vast number of humans. A short video clip below.
X Prize competitions provide the opportunity for individuals and companies to make philanthropic investments that are low-risk leveraged grants (teams typically spend in aggregate, 10 to 40 times the purse in research and development) that yield unprecedented returns in innovation, public awareness and support for radical breakthroughs that benefit humanity as a whole.
More shots taken throughout the evening.
Scott Hassan, Peter Farrell
Steve Cousins and Adeo Ressi
Peter Farrell, Renee Blodgett
Eric Berger on the right
Peter Diamandis and Sergey Brin
And, for those wondering what else was on the menu, they served green garlic pistou, fresh favas, white truffle mashed yukon gold potatoes, crispy roti, skywalker ranch herb zucchini cakes, porcini mushrooms, avocado and basil creme fraiche as well as a killer organic TCHO dark chocolate dome to die for with strawberry reduction. I had two. Ouch!!
May 17, 2010 in America The Free, Client Announcements, Client Media Kudos, Events, On Innovation, On Robotics, On Science, On Technology, On the Future, San Francisco, Social Gigs & Parties, Videos | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Sergey Brin on the X Prize via a Texai RobotX Prize Foundation's Chairman & CEO Peter Diamandis and Google's Sergey Brin were on stage this past weekend talking to a group of visionaries and leaders about science, technology, innovation and humanity: Peter in the flesh and Sergey through a Willow Garage Texai robot.
May 16, 2010
Texai Robot Navigates His Way Through a ReceptionAutodesk's Jonathan Knowles navigates a Willow Garage Texai robot through the X Prize cocktail reception on Saturday night. Follow along on our journey.
May 16, 2010 in America The Free, Client Announcements, Client Media Kudos, Events, On Innovation, On Robotics, On Science, On Technology, On the Future, San Francisco, Videos | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
May 12, 2010
Robotics Conference Attracts Global PioneersThe Willow Garage guys have been in Alaska for the past week at the ICRA, the International Conference on Robotics & Automation.
Imagine being in Alaska with some of the best innovators and developers in robotics. The theme of this year's conference was ”50 Years of Robotics,” reflecting on the amazing achievements in the field and the broad impact of robotics and automation research, development and education. The conference drew more than 1,575 attendees and featured 857 papers, 8 keynotes celebrating half a century of robotics, 3 plenary lectures and 42 workshops.
Client Willow Garage had three PR2 robots running demos in the booth and a Texai occasionally roaming around the exhibition area, driven by employees back in Menlo Park. They managed to capture some incredible photos inside and out.
They helped organize a number of workshops, including a ROS tutorial - more information on ROS here. By the end of the day volunteers were able to use Willow Garage's PR2 robots to autonomously retrieve an object from a table. The 100 participants at the Workshop on Mobile Manipulation created a lively and wide-ranging discussion about the direction of the field.
Additionally, the 80 participants at the Best Practice Algorithms in 3D Perception and Modeling for Mobile Manipulation workshop saw in-depth presentations and discussion about the state of the art of 3D perception and modeling.
Below, a PR2 robot gets a refreshment (taken from the Willow Garage flickr set).
Video from ICRA in Anchorage, AlaskaPreview the video below from this year's International Conference on Robotics & Automation in Anchorage, Alaska.
May 04, 2010
Willow Garages Gives Away 11 Robots to Institutions WorldwideWillow Garage today, announced that it is giving away 11 robots worth over $4 million to accelerate robotics applications & research.
The robots, which will be given away this month, are the new PR2s (Personal Robot 2’s), an open and robust hardware platform developed by Willow Garage. Today’s launch of their important PR2 Beta Program is the start of a new long-term initiative to enable scientific breakthroughs in personal robotics and to accelerate research. Each participant in the program will contribute their research to the open source robotics community so that the community as a whole can build on each other’s results.
The PR2 Beta Program is a two-year program in which the selected institutions will pursue their research and development goals as well as meet regularly to share their progress and explore new applications together. The PR2 Beta is a robust robot platform that includes a mobile base, two arms for manipulation, a rich sensor suite and sixteen CPU cores for computation. The total value of the PR2 Beta Program robots is more than $4 million.
Each PR2 comes pre-installed with the free and open source ROS robotics framework, which offers full control of the PR2, including libraries for navigation, manipulation, and perception.
By making the PR2 platforms available to researchers and developers, Willow Garage hopes to:
• enable scientific breakthroughs in personal robotics worldwide.
• expand the open source robotics community.
• develop reusable components and tools to improve productivity.
• explore new applications for personal robots that may never have been possible without community and institution contributions.
• accelerate overall robotics development. Because the ROS platform is open source, robotic developers avoid wasting time rewriting software from scratch that may already exist on other platforms.
IMAGINE THE POSSIBILITIES
Earlier this year, a graduate student at Berkeley University worked with a PR2 robot. Within two months the robot was folding towels with impeccable accuracy. Imagine what could happen when 11 institutions have 11 robots for two years, with many more students per robot.
The work is being contributed back into the open source community, which only further expands the development efforts and helps to expand on new ideas and projects. Consider the industries that could benefit from advancements in personal robotics, ranging from retail, healthcare and automotive to homecare, manufacturing and housework/daily tasks.
Willow Garage’s goal is to facilitate progress in the area of personal robotics by developing initiatives such as this one, sponsoring community-building activities and events, as well as through internship programs and with visiting scholars. The PR2 robotic platform evolved from the PR1 prototype robot in Professor Ken Salisbury’s Lab at Stanford University in 2007.
AND, THE LUCKY 11 RECIPIENTS ARE.........
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg with the proposal TidyUpRobot
The University of Freiburg will program the PR2 to perform tidy-up tasks such as clearing a table, while also working on difficult underlying capabilities such as understanding how drawers and refrigerators open and how to recognize different types of objects.
Bosch with the proposal Developing the Personal Robotics Market: Enabling New Applications Through Novel Sensors and Shared Autonomy
Bosch will bring their expertise in manufacturing, sensing technologies and consumer products. In addition to software contributions, Bosch will be making robotic sensors available to members of the PR2 Beta Program, including a limited number of "skins" that will give PR2 the ability to feel its environment.
Georgia Institute of Technology with the proposal Assistive Mobile Manipulation for Older Adults at Home.
The Healthcare Robotics Lab at Georgia Tech will be placing the PR2 in an "Aware Home" to study how robots can help with homecare and creative assistive capabilities for older adults. Their research includes creating easier ways for people to interact with robots and enabling robots to interact with everyday objects like drawers, lamps, and light switches.
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven with the proposal Unified Framework for Task Specification, Control and Coordination for Mobile Manipulation
KU Leuven in Belgium is a key player in the open source robotics community. As one of the founding institutions for the Orocos Project, they will be improving the tools and libraries used to program robots. They will also be working on getting the PR2 and people to perform a task together, such as carrying objects in a crowded environment.
MIT CSAIL with the proposal Mobile Manipulation in Human-Centered Environments
The MIT CSAIL group will use the PR2 to study the key capabilities needed by robots that operate in human-centered environments, such as safe navigation, interaction with humans via natural language, and planning for complex goals. Without a good map, a robot is lost. Their work will allow robots to build the maps they need in order to move around in buildings as large as MIT’s 11-story Stata Center.
Stanford University with the proposal STAIR on PR2
PR1 was developed in Kenneth Salisbury's Lab at Stanford and ROS was developed from the STAIR (Stanford AI Robot) Project. The team will work on several applications, which include navigating a building, identifying objects, retrieving items scattered about a building, and clearing a table after a meal.
Technische Universität München with the proposal CRAM: Cognitive Robot Abstract Machine
TUM will research giving PR2 the artificial intelligence skills and 3D perception to reason about what it is doing while it performs various kitchen tasks. These combined improvements will help PR2 perform more complicated tasks such as setting a table, emptying a dishwasher and other kitchen-related tasks.
University of California, Berkeley with the proposal PR 2 Beta Program: A Platform for Personal Robotics
The PR2 is now known as the "Towel-Folding Robot", thanks to the impressive efforts of Pieter Abbeel's lab at Berkeley. In two short months they were able to get PR2 to fold fifty towels in a row. Berkeley will extend on its work with the PR2 folding towels and tackle the much more difficult challenge of doing laundry, from dirty laundry piles to neatly folded clothes. In addition, Berkeley's team is interested in assembly and manufacturing tasks through learning by demonstration.
University of Pennsylvania, GRASP Laboratory with the proposal PR2GRASP: From Perception and Reasoning to Grasping
The GRASP Lab proposal aims to tackle a variety of challenges, including tracking people, planning in the presence of moving obstacles, and planning for tasks such as opening spring-loaded doors. They will also develop systems that allow people to control the robot using a motion capture system, and provide the PR2 with a tool-belt that lets it change it's gripper on the fly.
University of Southern California with the proposal Persistent and Persuasive Personal Robots (P^3R): Towards Networked, Mobile, Assistive Robotics
USC has already developed software that enables teaching the PR2 basic motor skills so it can adapt to different situations, such as the motions necessary to pour liquid into a cup. They will continue to expand on this work in imitation learning and building and refining skill libraries, while also doing research in human-robot interaction and tools to use sensors more accurately.
University of Tokyo, JSK Robotics Laboratory with the proposal Autonomous Motion Planning for Daily Tasks in Human Environments using Collaborating Robots
The JSK Lab's goal is to see robots safely and autonomously perform daily, human-like tasks such as retrieving objects and cleaning up environments. They'll also be working on getting PR2 to work together with other robots. The Jouhou System Kougaku (JSK) laboratory at the University of Tokyo is one of the top humanoid robotics labs in the world.
Watch this video to better understand the program and the possibilities.