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Baxter: The Future of Industrial Robotics?


Baxter -- material handling robotThis is Baxter.

Baxter is a dual-armed industrial robot developed by ReThink Robotics that is touted to be able to safely work alongside humans without safety cages.

With the new robot safety standard introduced by the American National Standards Institute, Baxter may lead to a new trend for material handling and other applications for industrial robots. The standard features “collaborative operation,” which includes humans and robots working hand-in-hand without an intermediary source like a turntable or stationary worktable.

Baxter is said to be safer than standard industrial robots. It actually has a face that shows where its attention is focused, and it can sense people nearby because of sensors. There are also sensors in the joints to can help to sense collisions and reduce force and cameras to show the robot what it is handling.

This robot model is also said to be less expensive than current industrial robotic systems, because it is run by a personal computer, as opposed to an external controller system. Baxter is intended for smaller to mid-size companies.  ReThink also claims that safety packages are not necessary because of the robot’s adaptability and safety.

While Baxter may be the wave of the future, he is still fairly young. Only introduced in 2012, it will be years before the effectiveness of his safety standards while he works among humans.

Currently, single and dual-armed industrial robotic arms still edge Baxter out in the areas of speed and precision, which are just two of the advantages of these systems. These industrial systems have been working in factories for years, with the humans working behind the robots, learning skills as industrial robotic technicians and programmers, skills that aren’t as prevalent with a simpler robotic system.

Baxter may be the future, or it may be a new robotic trend that could fizzle, but it is to be sure that industrial robotics as an industry are not going away any time soon.

RobotWorx, a certified integrator for leading industrial robotics companies like FANUC, KUKA and Motoman, offers customers a vast array of single and dual-armed industrial robotic models that perform a plethora of welding, material handling and material removal procedures.

For more information about automation with RobotWorx, contact us at 740-251-4312.