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Willow Garage NOT Shutting Down, Evolves To Go Commercial

February 15, 2013 | Telepresence Options

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[Source: 911industrialave via YouTube]

By:
Singularity Hub

Willow Garage, the robotics startup that brought us PR2 and the Robot Operating System (ROS) open source software library will soon cease to exist - at least as a stand alone entity. They issued this statement�on their blog Monday:

"Willow Garage has decided to enter the world of commercial opportunities with an eye to becoming a self-sustaining company. This is an important change to our funding model. The success of the PR2 personal robot and of ROS will continue. There are close to 50 PR2 robots in the world and Willow Garage support of the platform will not diminish. And of course, ROS, as an open source platform, will continue independent of our business model choices. In addition to Willow Garage, its supporters include the Open Source Robotics Foundation and all other contributors in the ROS community (academic, industrial and individual) who have made it the platform of choice for Robotics."

So there you have it. Willow Garage, all grown up, is leaving the nurturing care of its supporters and choosing to make it on its own. Willow Garage's ROS has become the premier place to share new software and new ideas that have made an extraordinary impact on the robotics industry. Their robot operating system (ROS) has become an indispensable tool for developers worldwide. Growing exponentially since it was created in 2007, a great many developers have gotten antsy upon catching wind of the changes at Willow Garage. Fear not, they're leaving ROS in the capable hands of Clearpath Robotics.

Their new plans may seem a logical next step when viewed in consideration that, in a way, the company has already begun to move into the space of commercial robotics. Their TurtleBot is a much more affordable robotics kit (a PR2 will run you $400,000) that is run, of course, with open-source software and was designed with education and research in mind. And Willow Garage spinoff, Suitable Technologies, sells the telepresence robot Beam. Suitable's CEO, Scott Hassan, is also the founder of Willow Garage. Their second spinoff, Industrial Perception Inc. (IPI), builds 3D vision guided robots for automated materials handling at commercial distribution centers. And it's by joining Palo Alto-based IPI that Willow Garage plans to become a "self-sustaining company."

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