7 Days, 70km, and counting
Our "Continuous Ops" team (Eitan Marder-Eppstein, Wim Meeussen, and Kevin Watts) just completed a new milestone that shatters all of our previous robustness records: 7 days, 70 km (43.5 miles) of continuous operation. The robot had to autonomously navigate around the office and plug itself in whenever it ran low on battery. The robot was allowed to announce it was "stuck" by sending a text message to the team. The team was then allowed to use a web page to get the robot out of the stuck situation, which they only had to do twice. As you can see from the photo above, the robot picked up some pieces of flair along the way.
Getting to this level of robustness with the PR2 and ROS took lots of hard work -- over 250kms of debugging Linux kernel panics, building lights that wouldn't stay on, overheating batteries, and overzealous safety lockouts. In fact, they completed three autonomous "marathons" (26.2 miles) getting to this point. All of their improvements will soon be released to the rest of the PR2 and ROS community. Congrats team!