The PR2 Works for You 24/7
After the completion of our second Milestone, the PR2 had a marathon under its metaphorical belt, and the know-how to detect wall outlets and plug itself in for recharging. More recently, we revamped the robot's plugging technique with the help of improved robot calibration practices, and we've developed a new web-based interface that makes it easier than ever to interact with the robot. With all these pieces in place, it was time to create the "24 Hour Robot": a PR2 that keeps its batteries topped off so that it's always ready for researchers to run new experiments or demos for unexpected visitors.
Without opening up a terminal, users can now give the PR2 a variety of instructions such as "Go plug in," or "Go tell everyone it's soccer time." While the latter command is used but once a week around here, the robot is more often in need of a recharge. When hacking on the robot, a simple click on the web interface sends the robot plugging into a wall outlet without interruption. The navigation stack guides the PR2 to the outlet, and the plugging-in code handles the rest. All of this was put to a 24-hour test: using nothing more than the web interface, the PR2 had to execute battery-draining tasks and then return to a wall outlet to recharge for its next goal.
This new tool combines the PR2's plugging and navigation capabilities into one easy-to-use interface that keeps the robot working for us around the clock. Now, the robot only sleeps when we do...so, never.