Those interested in an open source/DIY approach to emerging transformative technologies may want to look at an article (with video) on Physorg.com about a new affordable programmable robot from Willow Garage “Willow Garage introduces affordable, programmable robot – TurtleBot“:
Willow Garage, the Menlo Park, California-based consortium of robotics experts, founded by Scott Hassan in 2006 to create or develop hardware and open source software for the advancement of robotics, has announced the release of TurtleBot; a small home use robot for either amusement/entertainment purposes, or for those inclined, to build open source applications to add to the functionality of the new robot.
The idea behind TurtleBot, is to give novice robotics enthusiasts a base upon which to build. Traditionally, those that like to tinker with robots have had to start from scratch every time they wanted to build something; the TurtleBot does away with that concept by supplying users with a base upon which they can build, as the TurtleBot comes fully functional. Out of the box it can map your house with its 3-D vision, bring you food, take 360 degree panorama pictures and follow you around etc. But it also comes with the Robot Operating System (ROS) and associated toolkit, so that if users wish to add or change functionality, they are free to do so, and because its open source, anything they create can be shared with friends or those involved in online robotics communities.
Another objective of the TurtleBot team was to show that such a device could be put on the market for a reasonable price; in this case $500, for a very basic unit, and $1200 for the fully loaded version. Far below what robot enthusiasts have come to expect to pay. …
For more information, see this IEEE Spectrum blog and this Willow Garage overview, where you can alsso preorder for shipment “in early summer”. Willow Garage and open source robotics has been a topic of a number of Nanodot posts since 2009.