Rethink Robotics takes Baxter to next level with version 2.0

On the heels of Apple’s report that 200 million people have already adopted iOS 7, the robotics world got its own update news with the announcement that the category-defining Baxter robot from Rethink Robotics is moving to version 2.0.

Rethink called the software update “game-changing” for its interactive manufacturing robot, which introduced the idea of humans and machines working directly together on the production floor when it launched almost exactly a year ago.

Those who were unimpressed with Baxter’s original speed will be pleased to hear that the robot can now operate at a significantly faster pace. The company says it can also pick and place objects with increased consistency, move more fluidly between points, and detect and distinguish between a broader range of part geometries, among other new applications.

Here’s a more technical description from the company of some of the new things Baxter can do:

Baxter is now able to pick and place parts at any axis, allowing the robot to perform a broad array of new tasks, such as picking objects off of a shelf, or loading machines in a horizontal motion. The 2.0 software also allows the customer to define waypoints with increased accuracy; users will be able to define the exact trajectory that they want Baxter’s arms to follow simply by moving them. For example, the robot can be taught where to move its arms in and out of a machine. In addition, the 2.0 software enables customers to train Baxter to hold its arms in space for a predetermined amount of time, or until a signal indicates they can begin moving again. This makes Baxter useful for holding parts in front of scanners, inspection cameras or painting stations, and for working more interactively with other machines (i.e., moving its hand out of a machine while it cycles).

And below is a video of the new software in action:

“Over the past year, our customers have seen increased productivity and efficiency with the help of Baxter,” Scott Eckert, president and CEO of Rethink, said in a statement. “While Baxter’s 2.0 software will greatly expand the possibilities for both new and existing customers, this release is just the beginning. Baxter is a unique, upgradable software platform, and the robot’s capabilities will continue to evolve to help manufacturers increase their overall efficiency, and help them realize an even greater return on their investment over time.”

Existing customers can get the new software as a download from Rethink.

[ photo courtesy of Rethink Robotics ]