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New generation of industrial robots

Industrial robots are used in manufacturing (e.g. car manufacturing). Typical tasks are: welding, painting, assembly, picking, placement and product inspection. The first industrial robot, an automated hydraulic arm, was developed by Joseph F. Engelberger in 1956 for the General Motors car manufacturing plant in New Jersey. The robot replaced human workers, handling heavy and extremely hot metal parts too dangerous for the employees. Today industrial robots are big, moving so fast that they need to be kept in a cage, and they can be programmed only with expert knowledge. Rethink Robotics developed the next generation of industrial robots.

Baxter, the newly developed industrial robot by Rethink Robotics does not move fast (in comparison) as he is watching the environment with a sonar and if a person gets in the range of his movements he slows down. Further, his movements are made predictable for the workers visualising his current state on a display with a pair of eyes. Baxter looks where he moves next and looks surprised if something unexpected happens. In difference to other industrial robots new movements (due to a new line of production or new production process) can be learned by moving his arm and fingers simulating the new behaviour, the learning process is shown on the display.

Read the full article:
Article in the Economist
Website of the manufacturer:
Rethink Robotics

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