Home > Uncategorized > A Robot With a Delicate Touch – NYTimes.com

A Robot With a Delicate Touch – NYTimes.com

September 23, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

The $22,000 robot that Rethink will begin selling in October is the clearest evidence yet that robotics is more than a laboratory curiosity or a tool only for large companies with vast amounts of capital. The company is betting it can broaden the market for robots by selling an inexpensive machine that can collaborate with human workers, the way the computer industry took off in the 1980s when the prices of PCs fell sharply and people without programming experience could start using them right out of the box.

“It feels like a true Macintosh moment for the robot world,” said Tony Fadell, the former Apple executive who oversaw the development of the iPod and the iPhone.

Baxter will come equipped with a library of simple tasks, or behaviors — for example, a “common sense” capability to recognize it must have an object in its hand before it can move and release it.

Although it will be possible to program Baxter, the Rethink designers avoid the term. Instead they talk about “training by demonstration.” For example, to pick up an object and move it, a human will instruct the robot by physically moving its arm and making it grab the object.

The robot’s redundant layers of safety mechanisms include a crown of sonar sensors ringing its head that automatically slows its movements whenever a human approaches. Its computer-screen face turns red to let workers know that it is aware of their presence.

And each robot has a large red “e-stop” button, causing immediate shutdown, even though Dr. Brooks says it is about as necessary as the Locomotive Acts, the 19th-century British laws requiring that early automobiles be preceded by a walker waving a red flag.

via A Robot With a Delicate Touch – NYTimes.com.

Advertisements
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: