Willow Garage introduces affordable, programmable robot - TurtleBot

Apr 06, 2011 by Bob Yirka report

(PhysOrg.com) -- 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 (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.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

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.

The TurtleBot team was able to meet their objective by using virtually off the shelf components. It uses Microsoft’s Connect for sensing, an iRobot Create base, a 3000 mAh battery pack, an Asus 1215N laptop and a stock gyro to help the little guy keep its balance. The TurtleBot looks like a kitchen footstool on wheels but is perfectly capable of navigating around your house with relative ease.

TurtleBot: A Mobile Base and Power Board, B 3D Sensor, C Computing :: ASUS 1215N, D TurtleBot Hardware.

While the team at would most certainly like to make some money off their new , they appear to be more concerned with advancing the science of robotics, exemplified by the use of open-source programming tools and low-cost existing hardware.

Explore further: Posture affects infants' capacity to identify objects, study finds

Related Stories

iRobot Unveils Morphing Blob Robot (w/ Video)

Oct 15, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- iRobot's latest robot is unique on many levels. The doughy blob moves by inflating and deflating - a new technique its developers call "jamming." As the researchers explain in the video below, ...

A robot that identifies doors from their handles

Aug 16, 2010

The intelligent robots that appear in the movies have little relation to real life, although the tendency in current robotics to create machines that are as independent as possible is a fact. "The robot has to be aware of ...

Recommended for you

A robot prepared for self-awareness

10 hours ago

A year ago, researchers at Bielefeld University showed that their software endowed the walking robot Hector with a simple form of consciousness. Their new research goes one step forward: they have now developed ...

Future US Navy: Robotic sub-hunters, deepsea pods

Mar 28, 2015

The robotic revolution that transformed warfare in the skies will soon extend to the deep sea, with underwater spy "satellites," drone-launching pods on the ocean floor and unmanned ships hunting submarines.

Festo has BionicANTs communicating by the rules for tasks

Mar 27, 2015

Germany-based automation company Festo, focused on technologies for tasks, turns to nature for inspiration, trying to take the cues from how nature performs tasks so efficiently. "Whether it's energy efficiency, ...

Virtual robotization for human limbs

Mar 26, 2015

Recent advances in computer gaming technology allow for an increasingly immersive gaming experience. Gesture input devices, for example, synchronise a player's actions with the character on the screen. Entertainment ...

Robots on reins could be the 'eyes' of firefighters

Mar 25, 2015

Researchers at King's College London have developed revolutionary reins that enable robots to act like guide dogs, which could enable that firefighters moving through smoke-filled buildings could save vital ...

User comments : 7

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (1) Apr 06, 2011
"Bring you food"... It has no arms...

What they mean is if you set something on it it can carry it around, but if you're sitting on the couch and want a drink you would have to go pour it yourself, set the glass on the robot, go sit down, and then tell the robot to come to you... fantastic.

Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of personal robots but the current offerings are utterly useless.
5 / 5 (2) Apr 06, 2011
well, it also works if you have a wifey in the kitchen taking orders...
not rated yet Apr 06, 2011
"TurtleBot: A Mobile Base and Power Board, B 3D Sensor, C Computing :: ASUS 1215N, D TurtleBot Hardware"

I am guessing that "B" is the "Kinect" controller?
not rated yet Apr 06, 2011
I just keep thinking...man, an ASUS...this thing will die within a couple months of purchase...
not rated yet Apr 06, 2011
Trying to learn Robotics with this?

Hahaha nice joke.... but for those who do not have any knowledge of computational science(in mathematics), control systems, simulation, programming and electronics could be easily fooled into buying this expensive junk. Reasonable price? oh please...
not rated yet Apr 08, 2011
Most of us have all wished for it, thought how cool it would be or fell into the sci-fi ignorance of assuming it exists citing Starwars as a reference. Well we're proud as punch right now to be releasing a range of robots that are revolutionising industry they're intelligent and coordinated.
These are World leading robotic pick/place/sort solutions. You must check it!
not rated yet Apr 26, 2011
For those of you who think the turtle bot is expensive - I completely disagree. This is by far the cheapest setup you could buy for reliable Simultaneous Location And Mapping (SLAM) experimentation. Take a look around at any of the competition for all inclusive robot systems built to experiment with the Kinect camera - oh wait there aren't any. Having said that, Willow Garage isn't trying to provide any great robot hardware for real world use. They just want people to start using their software. Personally I'm excited to see what blossoms out of their community minded approach.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.