Baxter, the adaptive manufacturing robot from Rethink Robotics is certainly getting a lot of press these days. Rodney Brooks, the head of Rethink Robotics introduced Baxter at a recent TED Conference in Palo Alto, California. These annual Technology, Entertainment and Design Conferences began in 1990 to promote “ideas worth spreading” and offered a perfect venue to demonstrate the capabilities of Baxter.
Here is an excerpt from a blog article written by Ben Lillie at the TED Conference.
“We’ve heard a lot about robots at TED over the years. Demos of amazing specialized robots … talk about what robots can and can’t do … and will they take jobs from humans and is that a good or a bad thing? What’s missing is a concrete example of a multi-purpose robot that can indeed do many tasks. Well, it’s time to meet a general robot that can possibly be that.
Brooks says in the past factory robots are viewed differently. Ordinary people can’t interact with them, they take advanced mathematics to set up and use, they’re dangerous around humans. And that is partly why they are feared.
And with that,
Rodney Brooks introduces us to Baxter. This is a robot that is designed to be easy to work with. It has common-sense rules and design elements that make it feel natural. For example, it has eyes that look ahead to where the robot is about to move, so humans know what it’s going to do. It also has rules to ensure it doesn’t hurt its operator — when its arm is grabbed, it goes into “zero-force mode.” On top of that, it’s easy to program.”
Baxter has been at The Rodon Group for a few short weeks now and he is still learning the ropes. Working with representatives from Rethink as well as Onexia, our automation vendor, the technicians at Rodon challenge Baxter with new tasks. Its adaptive arms have been fitted with various functional “hands” giving Baxter the ability to change and meet the requirements of the job. This video shows Baxter hard at work.
The Rodon Group is one the first plastic injection molding companies in the U.S. to take advantage of this technology. If you would like to see Baxter in action, please join us on April 25, 2013 for our “Welcome Baxter Bash”.