Willow Garage introduces affordable, programmable robot - TurtleBot

April 6, 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.

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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.

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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.

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