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Rethink's Baxter - An affordable, easy to train, robot worker

by Alistair Lowe on 19 September 2012, 12:00

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qabmmb

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Here's one you don't see everyday and, certainly not on HEXUS, however, the Baxter robot has been causing quite the stir in the industry.

Whilst the cost of robotic arm cells in the industry has dropped, currently priced around Ā£30-50k, both training and maintenance costs remain consistently high, as there's a requirement for specialist knowledge. Baxter intends to challenge the status quo. by reaching a price-point roughly equivalent to one year's minimum-wage (£13,500) whilst requiring no specialist skill to operate.

Baxter is designed to be user-friendly and, in the work-place, this also has to mean inherently safe. The robot features a 360 degree sonar and pressure sensitive pads around his appendages, ensuring that he doesn't collide with workers. The outer-shell is made of a relatively soft material and there are no pinch-points for trapping human bits.

Baxter can be trained by manually dragging his arms around and pushing a button to remember a task, his facial expression will indicate to workers if he has understood or not. He's flexible enough to cope with variations in the placement of parts to pick and with the movement of a conveyor belt.

His arms are rated for 2.3kg each, though can potentially lift more if the range of movement is limited and initially, two appendages are available, an electric parallel gripper and a vacuum cup gripper, however third party partners are expected to crop-up with custom parts, with an SDK already available.

Something tells this writer that his editor may not allow him to obtain a Baxter for review.

HEXUS Forums :: 4 Comments

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I'm not sure to what you are referring with:
no pinch-points for trapping human bits
but it certainly made me chuckle :D

(also, is it Baxtor or Baxter? Title and first sentence have an ‘e’, the rest of the article has ‘o’)
I'm dead impressed!

OMG what happened to Gerty? He's clearly in shock, someone spilled coffee over his power unit and he puts on a smiley face? Poor little thing must be missing Sam badly! Let's hope he finds life on Earth friendlier than Sam did…