October 21, 2013
Unbounded Robotics Introduces One-Armed, Open-Source Robot
[ Watch the Video: Open-Source Robot From Unbounded Robotics ]
Brett Smith for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
When robotics research lab Willow Garage began losing employees to video-conferencing company Suitable Technologies in August, tech observers lowered their expectations for the release of an open source robot coming to market anytime soon.
However, a Willow Garage spinoff called Unbounded Robotics may prove any doubters wrong as the fledgling robotics developer announced Sunday it will begin shipping a one-armed, open source robot called UBR-1 in mid-2014.
“With decades of robotic hardware and software experience, we have developed a mobile manipulation platform that offers advanced software and a sophisticated hardware exterior,” reads a statement on the Unbounded Robotics website. “The robot offers mobility, dexterity, manipulation, and navigation in a human-scale, ADA-compliant model.”
The robot is expected to cost $35,000, which is 10 percent of the cost of Willow Garage’s PR2 robot. The UBR-1 comes with some upgrades on the capabilities of the PR2, which debuted in 2010.
“As Willow Garage alumni, we realize that UBR-1 will undoubtedly be compared to the PR2 robot from Willow Garage,” the Unbounded Robotics team continued. “The comparison is logical in some ways.”
“While UBR-1 is not specifically designed as the heir apparent for the PR2, we take pride in the comparison,” the company added. “UBR-1 offers a far more sophisticated platform than the PR2, however, which was originally designed more than five years ago. At a list price of $35,000, UBR-1 is also approximately one-tenth the cost of the PR2. UBR-1 is also capable of being deployed in business automation scenarios.”
The humanoid robot is equipped with a 3D sensor on its head, stereo microphones, a stereo speaker, an arm with 7 degrees of rotation, a lift that raises the bot 14 inches, two kinds of gripping capability, as well as a differential drive and a two-dimensional laser scanner that enable it to wheel around and ‘see’ where its going.
The company is emphasizing how UBR-1’s mobility and ability to navigate its environment give it an edge over some existing commercial competitors. The UBR-1 runs on the ROS open source operating system. This opens the door to potential uses by enterprising developers, the company said.
“As a platform for robotics, we are looking forward to seeing how UBR-1 is put to use in both R&D and commercial markets,” Unbounded’s statement continued. “Similar to an iPhone without any third-party apps, the greatest contribution of UBR-1 will be the output from the robotics community that is able to take advantage of this sophisticated mobile manipulation platform.”
“Unbounded’s UBR-1 is the natural heir apparent to the PR2 community, but at one-tenth the cost I anticipate strong uptake in the research and academic communities,” the startup told TechCrunch. “At the same time the UBR-1 robot is also capable of commercial deployments similar to Baxter, but with advanced navigation capabilities. Finally, it’s a great addition to the growing ROS community.
“Commercially, Baxter comes closest to competition. But Baxter works great when the robot doesn’t need to be mobile. Unbounded’s robot is able to move and navigate it’s environment,” it added.