Rethink Robotics aims to revolutionise manufacturing with humanoid robot
18th September 2012
US company Rethink Robotics today unveiled "Baxter" – the first humanoid robot designed to apply common sense and machine learning to factory operations.
Affordably priced, versatile and safe enough to work shoulder-to-shoulder with people, Rethink's new line of robots could redefine how small, mid-size and large domestic firms use automation to compete with manufacturers in low-cost regions of the world.
Based on the vision of Rodney Brooks, co-founder of iRobot and former director of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, "Baxter" breaks down the cost and safety barriers that have limited automation in U.S. manufacturing until now.
"Roboticists have been successful in designing robots capable of super-human speed and precision. What's proven more difficult is inventing robots that can act as we do – in other words, that are able to inherently understand and adapt to their environments," said Rodney Brooks, founder and CTO of Rethink Robotics. "We believed that if we could cross that chasm with the manufacturing environment specifically in mind, we could offer new hope to the millions of American manufacturers who are looking for innovative ways to compete in our global economy."
Rethink's new robots are groundbreaking in six different ways. No other product on the market can:
Manufacturers like Nypro have already seen the potential of Baxter. "Our customers come to us because they trust us to bring the highest quality and the best value," said Michael McGee, Director of Technology at Nypro Inc. "Our business has been built on that trust one customer at a time for over half a century, around the world. Rethink and their advanced robotics platform, Baxter, helps us to sustain this offering and enables us to continue to bring solutions to today's complex manufacturing challenges."
Baxter is a complete system with application software that will be enhanced through regular software updates. Rethink will also make a software development kit (SDK) available in early 2013, opening up Baxter-centered innovation to programmers, robot enthusiasts, inventors and anyone else with a passion for cutting edge technology.
"Our guiding vision was to create a robot that would break the mold in two distinct ways. First, the robot had to inherently function in a totally new way," said Scott Eckert, CEO of Rethink Robotics. "We also set out to create a hardware and software platform that could be extended in limitless directions through new software applications. As we release new software that expands Baxter's abilities, our customers can take advantage by simply updating the software on their robot. And with the SDK, the opportunity to think of new and novel ways to use Baxter is open to the world at large with our customers as the primary beneficiaries."
From innovation to production, Baxter is uniquely a product of the U.S. "It was important to us that we remain true to the vision of the company and Baxter is proof positive that you can manufacture a superior product cost effectively with American manufacturing," Ecker concluded.
Already on pre-order, the first product shipments of Baxter will begin in October 2012.