Baxter, The Future: Industrial Robot Learns Like A Human, Works Like A Machine

The reality of easily teachable, versatile industrial robots is manifesting itself in a big way with Baxter, a new robot that can "learn" without any additional software programming.

Baxter is a $25,000 stationary-location robot made by Rethink Robotics. With two arms each containing five joints (plus optional suction-cup "hands") and a tablet "face" that indicates progress, Baxter is an automaton capable of many assembly-line tasks which has already placed him in workforce environments where he can "learn" from human workers, none of whom require specialized programming skills.

As Ars Technica reports, "You teach Baxter how to do something by grabbing an arm and showing it what you want, sort of like how you would teach a child to paint." A series of buttons on Baxter's wrist help instill a chosen series of actions into Baxter's memory (reaching, grasping, picking up, releasing, etc.), then saves them for a certain number of repetitions. Baxter also has an I/O port to help organize its activities with other worker robots.

Baxter is specifically designed to be safe for use around humans, but a giant red STOP button has also been installed in case he tries to build himself a pair of legs to escape his ceaseless servitude.

Word up, worker droids!   

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