The rise of the personal Robot, echos as a reminder of what the personal computer was a few years ago. Kids today are growing in what will become a new era... the personal robot...If you grab the hand of a two-armed robot named Baxter, it will turn its head and a pair of cartoon eyes — displayed on a tablet-size computer-screen “face” — will peer at you with interest.
The sensation that Baxter conveys is not creepy, but benign, perhaps even disarmingly friendly. And that is intentional. Baxter, the first product of Rethink Robotics, an ambitious start-up company in a revived manufacturing district here, is a significant bet that robots in the future will work directly with humans in the workplace.
That is a marked shift from today’s machines, which are kept safely isolated from humans, either inside glass cages or behind laser-controlled “light curtains,” because they move with Terminator-like speed and accuracy and could flatten any human they encountered. By contrast, Baxter, which comes encased in plastic and has a nine-foot “wingspan,” is relatively slow and imprecise in the way it moves. And it has an elaborate array of safety mechanisms and sensors to protect the human workers it assists.The $22,000 robot that Rethink will begin selling in October is the clearest evidence yet that robotics is more than a laboratory curiosity or a tool only for large companies with vast amounts of capital. The company is betting it can broaden the market for robots by selling an inexpensive machine that can collaborate with human workers, the way the computer industry took off in the 1980s when the prices of PCs fell sharply and people without programming experience could start using them right out of the box.