This is perhaps the strongest “dish” of the trip.
As many may know Qbo works over a Linux-type operating system called OpenQbo, that consists in a modification made by our engineers of the Ubuntu distribution. Over OpenQbo, you can find a robotic software platform named ROS that is developed and maintain by the company Willow Garage that is also in charge of the development and selling of the PR2 robot. Before this trip, we arranged a meeting so that both company (Thecorpora and Willow Garage) could finally meet.
For some time the person responsible for maintaining the company’s blog and one of the main developers of ROS, Ken Conley received us very kindly since the moment Qbo and I entered the facilities.
The facilities are quite big and they are divided in several departments of development, testing, lab and assemble, as well as a presentation room not only for their PR2 robot but also for other robots that they receive from other research centers, which I considered very well-done and with a completely different mindset to the European. When Qbo and I went to the facilities we encounter researchers from an university, learning the ROS system for 2 weeks now.
For more than three hours we talked about the possibilities of Qbo and of the integration of ROS in our robot. As we were in an open area, we could meet and greet each and every of the members of Willow Garage and its CEO.
Two things that caught my attention. The first is that the environment of Willow Garage reminded me of Google’s, but with a closer treatment. I saw once again Melonee Wise, who I met at the Campus Party in Valencia this year and a friend of hers whose name escapes me at the moment and with whom I had the opportunity to chat during lunch. The other thing that caught my attention was that they assembled each of the robots, having a fairly large laboratory where several engineers assemble by hand every piece of the robot allowing me to take pictures inside the open PR2, which until now I was forbidden in other places that I’ve been. To give you an idea, every PR2 takes a couple of weeks to be fully assembled.
In the facilities, I had the opportunity to meet PR2 in several of its versions and it is really impressive, as for its appearance and structure. I didn’t count the units that I saw throughout their facilities but they were many, some completely finished and other half finished.
Thanks to all the team of Willow Garage for receiving Qbo and me.