Willow Garage hosted the first robots graduation in history last night in their Menlo Park offices on Willow Road, the same road where Google was birthed.

CEO Steve Cousins and founder Scott Hassan gave an emotional speech about how Willow Garage got started, the vision behind it and everything that led up to this historical moment.

Hundreds of people gathered together for the celebration: friends, fans, employees, a couple of local mayors, press, bloggers and universities. Among the university attendees were the 11 recipients of the PR2 beta program, who flew in from around the world to get trained on their robots this week and to celebrate the honor.

Together with the visionaries at Willow Garage and the Directors of the Personal Robotics Program Keenan Wryobek and Eric Berger, the recipients will work hard in the coming two years to accelerate the growth of robotics research and development and yes, change the world.

Below, Keenan and Eric thanked the open source community, the recipients, other Willow Garagers and of course, the PR2 robots. As the winners were announced, the PR2s decided it was time for them to celebrate too, with a little flag waving and dance for the crowd. I think they were starting to realize that they now have fans.

Later on, the PR2s danced with the attendees and zipped around the floor to show off their abilities. And why not, last night was about celebration and giving thanks to a community who accomplished this great achievement. As Scott so rightfully put it at the beginning of the event – “we can’t do it alone, we don’t want to do it alone.” With more effort, resources, passion and talent behind robotics, advancement can happen that much faster.

A few shots of the event, the speeches, the party and the dancing below. A thumbs up to ROS and the efforts of the Willow Garage team and recipients who are going to work together to make magical things happen in the next two years.

Eric Berger demonstrates PR2 in front of a group of bloggers and press


Eric Berger, Scott Hassan, Steve Cousins and Keenan Wyrobek

L TO R - Eric Berger Scott Hassan Steve Cousins and Keenan Wryobek

The Singularity Hub guys Keith Kleiner and Aaron Saenz


Googlers and friends showed up to celebrate


Yes, that’s John Markoff in the Texai robot



Scott Hassan


Steve Cousins



The PR2 robot graduation ceremony, the first in history


Steve Cousins and Scott Hassan


Photo credit: Steve Brehaut

PR2 claps as his audience claps for him



Keenan Wryobek


Photo credit: Steve Brehaut


Jonathan Knowles, Renee Blodgett


Photo credit: Steve Brehaut



Photo credit: Steve Brehaut


Kamal Shah and Janet Rae Dupree



The deserving 11 recipients are:

• Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg

• Bosch

• Georgia Institute of Technology

• Katholieke Universiteit Leuven


• Stanford University

• Technische Universität München

• University of California, Berkeley

• University of Pennsylvania, GRASP Laboratory

• University of Southern California

• University of Tokyo, JSK Robotics Laboratory

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