Meet the new Baxter robot — twice as fast, more precise and easier to use

A front view of Baxter, a robot developed by Rethink Robotics and distributed locally by Automation Inc. Baxter the manufacturing robot is now faster, more precise and easier to use thanks to a new software update.

Baxter the robot can now fold a shirt, brew coffee, solve a Rubik’s Cube and pack boxes in manufacturing settings twice as fast.

The manufacturing robot, made by Boston-based Rethink Robotics, is now faster, more precise, and easier to use than ever before, thanks to a software update that was released on Thursday.

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Manufacturers across the country use the Baxter robot to automate a variety of manual labor tasks alongside workers in factories, ranging from packing and unpacking boxes to assembling kits and putting parts into a machine.

The software update, called Intera 2.1, allows manufacturing customers to do even more with Baxter, said CEO Scott Eckert.

“Now that we’re twice as fast, there’s a number of opportunities we could do that we couldn’t do before,” he said in an interview.

Those opportunities include picking up items off a fast-moving conveyer belt and loading them into a machine, he said.

Baxter the manufacturing robot is now also easier to use. One new feature is “motion preset,” which allows a person to adjust Baxter’s precision and speed settings.

“This makes it simple for a typical factory technician to train Baxter,” Eckert said.

Rethink Robotics also launched a new software update called SKD 1.0 for the Baxter Research Robot. That update allows researchers to access Baxter’s computer processing unit, or “brain,” remotely.

That update will benefit researchers in academic settings as well as large corporate customers with research and development labs, Eckert said. Baxter research robots are currently in more than 100 universities, he said.

Meet the new Baxter robot — twice as fast, more precise and easier to use

New software updates are released for Baxter about twice a year, and Rethink Robotics is currently working on the next update, Eckert said.

“Continuing to enhance the software will end up addressing more and more customer opportunities for us,” he said.

Rethink Robotics announced earlier this month it has added two software experts to its executive team. Jim Lawton, formerly senior vice president at New Jersey-based commercial information firm Dun & Bradstreet (NYSE: DNB), will serve as chief marketing officer for Rethink Robotics.

Milan Shah, formerly senior vice president of engineering at Boston-based predictive security intelligence firm Core Security Technologies, will be Rethink Robotics’ vice president of software engineering.

Source: BizJournal

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