Belue 3labor for manufacturing companies
, Baxter is “powerful, cheap, versatile, and easy
(Freedman). This friendly helper has two arms with fingerlike grippers at the end of each one, atorso, and a head consisting of a computer screen that displays a line drawing of a face. Thisscreen-based face goes through a range of emotions, such as asleep, neutral, concentrating,focused, surprised, confused, and sad. If Baxter is calmly working
, its “face” shows the focused
expression. If someone suddenly approaches, the eyes open in surprise. Baxter was designed towork right alongside employees, so, as a safety feature, sensors were placed throughout its bodyto detect when an employee is approaching. If someone gets too close to Baxter, he willautomatically stop performing his task and shut off. While most robots are programmed to
perform one simple, repetitive task, Baxter is capable of being “taught” multiple tasks just ashumans do, learning each in just minutes. Baxter’s arms were intended to be guidable by hand.
This design allows
the robot to learn a task’s motion with the help of a human, spot the object,“feel” its way through gripping a
nd maneuvering the object, and repeat the motion slightlydifferent each time until it has mastered the technique. So, here we have a robot that looks like ahuman, learns and performs tasks efficiently and possibly better than a human, and is safe towork alongside humans. Is it safe to say this robot can think like a human, too? After all, that isa main goal humanoid robotics engineers are trying to achieve.
In addition, Brooks says, “Baxter
can be taken out of the box, set up, trained, and put to work in about one hour. At $22,000each
less than the price of a minivan
it could easily pay for itself in months, saving acompany $30,000 a year or more in labor costs per robot
(Freedman). This game-changingrobot for manufacturing companies is the definition of a dream employee.
But could one man’sdream be another man’s nightmare? If Brook’s ambitious plan for Baxter is carried out as he
hopes, these robots will replace humans in millions of jobs in the U.S. alone. Implementing