Tully Foote has posted this on Willow Garage's blog: "Willow Garage has decided to enter the world of commercial opportunities with an eye to becoming a self-sustaining company. This is an important change to our funding model."
That makes more sense. They supposedly had enough funding to last through at least 2020 so it's hard to see why they would shut down. But since not bothering to actually commercialize stuff has been their biggest weakness to date, this move seems sensible.
As mentioned in the article, these projects don't "belong" to Willow Garage anymore, anyway.
OpenCV is being overseen by Itseez, and ROS is being overseen by the Open Source Robotics Foundation. More to the point, all of Willow Garage's code that they've been key contributors/supporters to (ROS, PCL, OpenCV, etc.) are all currently being used as the official software platform for the DARPA Robotics Challenge, which is only 4 months in to a potential 3 year long competition. None of these projects are going anywhere.
This is kind of sad (a friend of mine contracts there). I was always a bit wary, since it seemed like "fun project" vs. "commercial company", but it was a fun project working on amazingly awesome stuff, using cool technology.
I don't know if Willow Garage was responsible for the early incarnations of OpenCV but that was an incredible mess suffering from high technical debt. Fortunately, the code looks a lot better nowadays.
They haven't even confirmed with the company yet. The site (http://www.willowgarage.com) lists nothing relevant to this and nothing's on their blog. Did someone at ieee even confirm any of this before publishing?
Edit... Just read again to try and find some more and this "multiple sources" business sounds an awful lot like that X-Surface debacle. I expected more.
Eh, I think the PR2 beta program institutions ended up buying the PR2s, although probably at a discount from the sticker price of $400k. I worked in one of the research labs that had one and we ended up buying it recently at a pretty steep discount. Also the clarifying post from WG that states that they're not going anywhere mentions that there are 50 PR2s out in the world, and there were only 11 or 12 that were given out as part of the beta program so clearly someone bought them.
FWIW, clicking on that link with Safari showed an unexpected popup: "WebProcess wants to sign using key "Apple ID Authentication [timestamp] in your keychain". Using some sort of client cert for SSL? I didn't find an obvious reason for the interaction.