October 21, 2012      

Arriving in Pittsburgh: Sunday, October 21, 2012

It?s been one month since Baxter, the co-worker robot, from Rethink Robotics was introduced to the world for the first time. The second time will be a first-ever, live stage appearance and demonstration at RoboBusiness 2012, which begins Monday, October 22 and runs through Wednesday, October 24th.

Baxter?s first, long-anticipated appearance stirred a media storm of positive coverage from every quarter. But like all media coverage, news quickly moves from the front page and everyone?s awareness to someplace else. Baxter?s second appearance must be more long-lived than the first, if its appearance is to have any meaning at all. The co-worker is here. What now?

Steve Derby, co-director of the Flexible Manufacturing Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, concurs, saying: ?The evolution of the robot itself has been way too slow on all fronts, whether on mechanical design, controls or programming interface.?

Keeping Baxter on the front page

Rod Brooks, Baxter?s maker, has done more than his part in getting things going. He built Rethink Robotics with a single purpose in mind, convinced investors of that purpose, hired and motivated developers to work and believe in that purpose, successfully tested the machine with manufacturers, and finally built demand for that machine.

Between flying in to Pittsburgh and flying out again, lots of the thinking surrounding Baxter?s future will be set into motion during the Conference Workshop: Rethinking Manufacturing with Robotics, and its five subset meetings:

  • The New Industrial Robotics Market Overview
  • Rethinking Robotics: Machines and Man, Working Side-by-Side
  • ROS-Industrial ? A Disruptive Community Approach to Industrial Robotics Software
  • Keys to Safely Implementing Robotics in Industrial Applications
  • Mobile Service Robotics in Manufacturing

Much of what goes on during Monday?s special session, Rethinking Manufacturing with Robotics, as well as the following two days? Applications & Markets Tracks, will offer up valuable perspectives on the progress of co-worker robots for 2013 and the work that needs to be done.

If co-worker robots are to revolutionize work and become ubiquitous in the workplace?as the PC revolutionized information and seemingly cornered ubiquity in the process?Monday will be a strong indicator that all is well and that the promise that Rod Brooks showed us all in September hasn’t been lost.

The future of co-worker robots begins tomorrow. Godspeed.