The quickly evolving field of robotics will face numerous challenges in a near future. Engineers and experts such as Rodney Brooks, the visionary who made vacuum robots popular, are now putting all theur knowledge and efforts into the creation of collaborative robots. They need to be affordable, easy to use, adaptative and safe for their operators, like the collaborative robot Baxter.
Collaborative robotics was one of the main themes adressed by Rodney Brooks during this seminar co-organized by Génération Robots and l’ISIR.
Rodney Brooks, who was introduced by the head of ISIR Raja Chatila, talked fondly about his unique experience before talking about the future challenges of robotics and about the solution that will need to be found.
The founder of Rethink Robotics told the attendants how he realized what were the needs of the robotics industry why managing the company iRobot, the entity behind the Roomba Vacuum Cleaning Robot.
The realization came while he was visiting several suppliers in Asia, that there was definitely a place for safe and user-friendly industrial robots in the factory process.
In light of this, Brooks decided to design and build a collaborative robot which ownershpip would be a quick, easy and intuitive.
Moreover, the demand for these kind of robots is growing as governmental initiatives, economical and social changes are encouraging American companies to relocate their factories in the USA. This trend has a positive influence on products quality and job creation.
This process, which is supported by cobots (collaborative robots) reinforced Rodney Brooks’ decision to found Rethink Robotics. The company is located in Boston, where most of the R&D work and the assembly of Baxter takes place.
Thus was born the ‘Manufacturing version’ of Baxter, operated with the Intera 3 software.
Rodney Brooks also addressed the well known problem of the ageing population in Europe. There again, robots could be one of the solution to the lack of existing resources, therefore allowing the senior citizens to be more independent and to grow old with dignity.
For Rodney Brooks, the designers, robotics engineers and programmers have to keep in mind that one of the key factor of the democratization of collaborative robots is the user interface design.
Rethink Robotics also designed a ‘Research version’ of the collaborative robot Baxter, created to meet the specific needs of the healthcare industry.
More details in this video, which contains an interview of Philippe Capdepuy, doctor in Artificial Intelligence who works at HumaRobotics, the R&D branch of Génération Robots.
Indeed, collaborative robots can interact with humans following a multimodal approach during the manufacturing process.
Robots available on Generation Robots: