JSK Visit to Willow Garage Yields New Demonstrations

Last month, researchers from the JSK Lab at the University of Tokyo visited Willow Garage to explore ROS and PR2. JSK has an impressive track record in robotics going back 30 years to Hirochika Inoue's pioneering work.  For the past 20 years, JSK's efforts using EusLisp have led to breakthroughs in planning, perception, sensor integration and applications.

Professor Masayuki Inaba, Associate Professor Kei Okada, and four graduate students have been working on Toyota's latest Assistant Robot (AR) and Panasonic's Kitchen Assistant Robots (KAR) at IRT , daily tasks on Kawada's HRP2 humanoid robots, and musculoskeletal humanoid Kotaro series.  This team spent 4½ days in Willow Garage's lab to connect their existing EusLisp software system with ROS.  They were able to come up to speed and make the PR2 do new things in only one week.  Arriving at San Francisco International Airport with a basic knowledge of ROS from the online tutorials and an idea of what PR2 might be capable of, they identified, explored and integrated ROS packages such as the navigation stack, face detection, and arm controllers with EusLisp's executive control and existing libraries.  You can see the results of their work in the video.

Willow Garage's 3rd Milestone (we're still working on the 2nd one) is to show that people from other labs can take advantage of the PR2/ROS platform.  JSK's demonstration in such a short period of time indicates that we're on the right track.  People familiar with other robot systems only need to learn something about ROS topics, services, and message formats in order to use the entire framework.

We were impressed with and appreciated intensive efforts by this enthusiastic team.  Students had only a few hours of sleep, watching the sun rise every day.  The professors enjoyed working closely and debugging with their students throughout their visit.  Willow Garage salutes the JSK Lab team:  we all experienced a wonderful week developing a mutual understanding and friendship and made progress in robotics, transcending differences in language and culture.