As for the high price and its generally opaque business model, Willow Garage compares the current state of its industry to high end workstations in the 70s, back when researchers were spending more money and time figuring out what their computers could do than actually accomplishing anything with them. Willow Garage isn't planning on making any sort of killing in the business yet -- they'd just be happy to have the PR2 project at a self sustaining level -- but they're working toward what they see as the "next radical shift" in productivity, a personal robotics follow-up to the personal computer revolution. This is a future similar to the one Bill Gates was talking up back in 2006, but of course Willow Garage wants its open source ROS platform to be the "Microsoft" this time around. They certainly don't plan to corner the hardware market in the process, however: the company hopes the quasi-followup to the PR2 will actually be built by multiple companies.
Willow Garage PR2 press shotsSee all photos