Rethink Robotics have created a new android that they believe could stop industrial manufacturing jobs from going overseas. The Boston-based company has created a revolutionary humanoid robot named Baxter, and they believe their product could transform US manufacturing by being a source of cheap and reliable labor.
For those of you who think that having a robot would be a substantial investment, Rethink Robotics have created Baxter to be surprisingly low-cost. As such, he only costs $22,000, and that includes software upgrades. This allows small and medium-sized companies to be able to afford these multi-purpose robots instead of sending work overseas to the likes of China.
Baxter is also safer than standard industrial robots as he is covered in soft materials in case of impact. He is also equipped with sensors that warn him if people are near, allowing him to stop moving so no accidents will occur.
Speaking to CNET News, Rethink Robotics founder and CTO Rodney Brooks said: “(Baxter) is designed so that an ordinary factory worker can train it to do a task in minutes. It’s applying what IT has done for the office worker or ordinary consumers, giving them powerful tools and smartphones, to industrial automation to increase productivity of regular factory workers.”
Brooks also added that the kind of jobs Baxter would be doing wouldn’t jeopardize US professionals. “He (Baxter) would be picking stuff off conveyors, putting it in boxes, moving stuff around, putting stuff on test equipment. Later it will be machine tending, putting things into machines, pressing buttons, a lot of testing along production lines. Later it will be more box packing, with more and more capabilities over time. These are dull, boring jobs but every production facility has lots of them.”
Brooks is convinced that Baxter can transform the US industry thanks to his simple design and multifunctional abilities. “There are 300,000 small and medium manufacturers in the U.S. who do not have any sort of robot in them,” noted Brooks. “Our goal is it will take two hours from delivery of the robot to when it’s doing productive work. In our trials it’s been less than an hour. A person who has never seen a robot before can learn to train it in 5 to 10 minutes.”
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Via CNET News