Robots are sometimes thought of as viable avenue only for large, wealthy companies, and just a pipe dream for small and medium sized businesses. But here at the RIA we believe every size business can reap the benefits of automation because we’ve seen it, and we’re so committed to spreading the word that we’ve designed the 2013 Automate Show to have a special focus on small and medium sized businesses. Show floor admission is free, giving you access to dozens of automation companies demonstrating their solutions.
One of those exhibitors will be Rethink Robotics, introducing their new robot that’s specifically designed for smaller applications. Reporter Thomas Friedman got a sneak peek at the new tech.
Robots will revolutionize the economy as PCs did
by Thomas Friedman
And therein lie the seeds of a potential revolution. Rethink’s goal is simple: that its cheap, easy-to-use, safe robot will be to industrial robots what the personal computer was to the mainframe computer, or the iPhone was to the traditional phone. That is, it will bring robots to the small business and even home and enable people to write apps for them the way they do with PCs and iPhones — to make your robot conduct an orchestra, clean the house or, most important, do multiple tasks for small manufacturers, who could not afford big traditional robots, thus speeding innovation and enabling more manufacturing in America.
”If you see pictures of robots welding or painting” in a factory, “you will not see humans nearby because it is not safe” being around swinging robot arms, explains Rethink’s founder, Rodney Brooks, the Australian-born former director of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and the co-founder of iRobot, which invented the Roomba vacuum-cleaning robot. Traditional industrial robots are fixed and not flexible, and they take a long time — and a skilled engineer — to program them to do one repeatable task.
”Our robot is low-cost, easily programmable, not fixed and not dangerous,” says Brooks. “We were in a small plastics company the other day, and the owner said he is using the robot for two hours to do one task and then rolling it over to do another. With our robots, you teach them about the specific task you want done, and when you are done with that, you program another one.” And if your hand gets in the way, the robot just stops.
You can read the full article here. Not only will Rethink Robotics be at the 2013 Automate Show, but Rodney Brooks, founder and chairman, will be one of our featured speakers at the 20th Annual RIA Robotics Industry Forum. We’re excited to hear the unique perspective he’ll offer on the industry!