National Robotics Week keynote with Rodney Brooks

Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 5:30pm
Loeb Playhouse, Stewart Center


"Robots as Co-workers: The Future of Collaborative Robots"

Rodney Brooks has been a professor of robotics at MIT, was co-founder of iRobot, is an international scholar, and is now chief evangelist (aka founder, chairman and chief technology officer) at Rethink Robotics where he is, again, revolutionizing robotics.

He revolutionized mobile robots with a little crawler called Genghis and transformed our living rooms with the Roomba at iRobot. Now, he wants to revolutionize manufacturing with Baxter.

With most of our manufacturing being done in small- and medium-sized companies and a national emphasis on re-shoring manufacturing jobs, how can robotics help, Brooks asks.

Traditional industrial robots have been difficult to integrate into factories, especially small factories. They need to be caged for safety and need to have long production runs in order to be economically viable. Rethink Robotics has tackled these problems and developed a new low-cost robot that is being adopted in a variety of production environments. Baxter is a two-armed robot -- with seven degrees of freedom on each arm -- available to researchers. Rethink Robotics believes that once there are thousands of people with access to open source manipulators, they will invent all sorts of new applications for robots, in health care and in elder care.

There are two Baxter robots on campus now: one in the College of Technology and one in the School of Industrial Engineering. They will be used in research and classes starting Fall 2014.

Brooks's presentation is presented as part of National Robotics Week (April 5-13) by the Purdue Robotics Accelerator.