Willow Garage PR2 Beta Program Launch Party and Press Conference

Willow Garage PR2 Beta Program Launch Party and Press Conference

On Wednesday night, midway through a week-long PR2 training workshop, Willow Garage held a press conference and party celebrating the launch of the PR2 Beta Program, essentially signifying the completion of their Milestone 4.  The night featured speeches by Willow Garage founder (Scott Hassan), CEO (Steve Cousins), and Personal Robotics Program co-founders (Keenan Wyrobek and Eric Berger).  Eleven PR2 robots, destined for recipient robotics institutions around the world, made dramatic entrances before performing an impressive 11-robot coordinated dance (see video below).  I was privileged to attend the event as both a workshop participant and as a Hizook "press" representative, providing access to the press conference where I met other elite robotics bloggers, such as Norri Kageki (GetRobo), Evan Ackerman (BotJunkie), and Erico Guizzo (IEEE Spectrum Automation Blog).  The event was fun, and definitely strengthened my impression that the personal robotics revolution is near.  Updated June 2nd 2010:  The official Willow Garage mashup from the "PR2 Graduation Party" has been posted (embedded below).

Content added June 2nd, 2010: 

The official Willow Garage video of the event is now online.   I still recommend watching the other video with coordinated PR2 flag waving.


 

Originally Posted Content:

Let's get right to it -- the highlight of the night was definitely the 11-robot graduation walk plus coordinated dance (photos via Willow Garage's Flickr).

PR2 Robots performing coordinated flag-waving dance

PR2 Robots performing coordinated flag-waving dance

PR2 Robots performing coordinated flag-waving dance

 

Of course, the night also featured speeches by Willow Garage founder (Scott Hassan), CEO(Steve Cousins), and Personal Robotics Program co-founders (KeenanWyrobek and Eric Berger).

Speech by Scott Hassan  Speech by Steve Cousins  Speech by Keenan Wyrobek and Eric Berger

 

There are plenty of videos of the event on YouTube, but I'm holding out for official Willow videos with prime vantage points -- the party was quite large, and there were many Silicon Valley notables in attendance.  

Willow Garage Party

 

I certainly had a good time at the party.  At one point I was dancing with the Georgia Tech PR2 via its direct physical interface (thanks for the photo, Ken / Radu).  Apparently I wasn't the only one... I saw Scott Hassan doing the same nearby.

Dancing with a robot via direct physical interface

 

A major press conference preceded the party.  In a bit of foolishness, I arrived unprepared.  I brought neither a professional camera nor Flip video recorder to the event -- I had shown up to the evening as a workshop participant, there for pure enjoyment.  However, I was also conferred a "press" title in thanks to your enjoyment of Hizook.  My lack of multimedia is easily supplanted by the many others that widely covered the event:


As press folks congregated, everyone's attention was on the myriad Texai robots that allowed non-Bay Area journalists to attend the event via remote presence.   

Texai Robots attending the Willow Garage Press ConferenceTexai Robots attending the Willow Garage Press Conference  Texai Robots attending the Willow Garage Press Conference

 

I was fortunate to meet several other elite robotics bloggers in attendance at the press conference:  Norri Kageki (GetRobo), Evan Ackerman (BotJunkie), and Erico Guizzo (IEEE Spectrum Automation Blog) via Texai remote presence. 

 

Norri graciously snagged a photo of Evan (left), Erico (middle via Texai), and I (right) -- too bad we didn't get her in the picture too!

Elite Robotics Bloggers: Evan Ackerman, Erico Guizzo, and Travis Deyle

 

On the whole, the press conference and launch party were probably the most fun single events at the week-long training workshop; however, they don't hold a candle to the privilege of working day-to-day with the PR2 to facilitate the personal robotics revolution!

 

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