Baxter and Sawyer are brothers in arms, so to speak. They are collaborative, follow instructions, and adaptable to their surroundings.
They also happen to be robots. I find it interesting that they have human names, although they are industrial bots. No mistake they are meant for the factory floor, and not cute or friendly robots that are also coming of age elsewhere. Rethink Robotics, which manufactured them says they are “trained not programmed.” It quotes a professor who says his “long range aim is to try to achieve human level artificial intelligence. So the Baxter would be like a person, maybe not a full-fledged adult.”
- Baxter is a 2-armed bot, and is described as “the safe, flexible, affordable alternative to outsourced labor and fixed automation.” It weighs 165 pounds.
- Sawyer is a one-armed fellow, and is called a “collaborative robot designed to execute machine tending, circuit board testing and other precise tasks.” It weighs just 42 pounds
Why I find this interesting is that we have begun to look at robots in humanistic terms, and this paves the way for them to be ‘invited’ into our homes some day soon. If you don’t believe me ask those who love their Roomba, the robotic vacuum cleaner.
How long will it be before we have a Homework robot, and an automated, (two-armed, hopefully) Personal Assistant? Low maintenance, too –no need for company benefits. Some people who use SIRI may say they already have one of those! Chat bots are also in the news now – like the Iranian bot, endearingly known as Tina.
Humanoid devices are also the stuff I have begun writing about elsewhere.