Baxter is a versatile manufacturing robot. Its cameras and force-sensing actuators let it adapt to changes in the environment, and a user can program a new task simply by moving its arms around.
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Baxter doesn't speak, but it nods its LCD head to indicate that it has understood a new command.
In an interview with IEEE Spectrum, Rodney Brooks describes how he tests the safety of his robot Baxter by putting his own body on the line.Photo: David Yellen
Rodney Brooks explains the main differences between a traditional industrial robot and his robot Baxter.Photo: David Yellen
Rodney Brooks, a cofounder of iRobot and a former director of MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, founded Rethink Robotics, then called Heartland Robotics, in 2008. His goal was to develop an affordable industrial robot that could automate repetitive tasks in small and medium-size manufacturers, working alongside humans and helping them with tasks rather than taking their jobs. The company worked in total secrecy until late 2012, when it changed its name to Rethink Robotics and unveiled its first robot, called Baxter. It introduced a second robot, Sawyer, in 2015. Rethink raised US $62 million in venture funding. The company shut down in 2018.