Humanoid Robot called Baxter was launched by Rethink Robotics at a sale price of $22,000, which was designed by an Australian robotics and artificial-intelligence expert Rodney Brooks.
Baxter is a complete system and there is no need for complex programming or expensive integration. As it has behavior based intelligence, it can be easily programmed in order to do simple jobs. Baxter is trainable by non-technical personnel through the navigator on the arm and display on the face. The company claims that it has a “common sense”. Baxter is able to adapt itself to its task and environment. Thus, changing Baxter across tasks, lines and teams is possible. Material handling, line loading and unloading, test and sort, machine tending, packing and unpacking, light assembly and finishing operations are some of the duties that Baxter can overcome.
The robot moves on casters and for stability there are locking feet and it has two arms and a vision system. There are five built in cameras and 360° sonar on the robot, which helps visual object identification and human presence detection, thus also enhancing human robot interaction. Baxter can recognize people around and can work safely with them, thanks to its vision guided movement. When there are humans in workplace, it slows down to increase safety. It has also force sensing and force control at each joint on arms, so Baxter can feel bumping into people or objects.
Each arm of the robot has 7 degrees of freedom and 5 lb payload. The arm speed is 1m/sec and 8-12 pick and place operations are possible in a minute with both arms. Interchangeable end effectors are also available. It is an extensible platform like a pc and smart phone, and you can get new software updates with new capabilities. Rethink Robotics is now developing software in order to make the robot communicate with other machines, such as a conveyor belt.
The ultimate objective of Baxter-like robots is taking over complex tasks like combining parts on an electronics assembly line. It is believed that Baxter will assist small companies of manufacturing by enhancing efficiency against overseas labor with low cost such as China and Thailand.
Video Credit: Rethink Robotics