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Brown Robotics Purchases a Baxter Robot

Brown Robotics and Baxter

Professors Chad Jenkins and Stefanie Tellex and the students of Brown Robotics with the new Baxter Research Robot

Christmas arrived earlier this week to the Brown Robotics lab. The faculty and students of Brown Robotics unpacked the newest addition to the lab, a Baxter Research Robot designed and built by Rethink Robotics in Boston, Massachusetts.

Baxter is a revolutionary, low-cost platform designed primarily to assist in manufacturing and assembly tasks to help bring manufacturing back to America. As opposed to bulky, dangerous industrial robots used on automotive assembly lines, Baxter is safe, compliant and designed to work closely with human workers. Installed on a rolling base, Baxter features two arms with attached grippers to pick up and manipulate small to medium sized objects. A tablet-sized screen and video camera are mounted at the head and are used for observing the environment and people around it. Baxter's prebuilt software packages and hardware allow it to follow demonstrated tasks readily almost out of the box. The Baxter Research Robot opens up the internal software to enable robotics researchers and programmers to explore new frontiers of human-robot collaboration. The lab looks to exploit this unique combination of human friendliness and robust software infrastructure to improve domestic robotics.

Brown Robotics setting up baxter

Professor Chad Jenkins and the Brown Robotics students assemble and setup the Baxter Research Robot

The faculty and students of the Brown Robotics lab will use Baxter to research shared autonomy in a variety of household domains. As robotic technology advances, Brown Robotics researchers hope that robots like Baxter can learn to provide useful assistance in culinary preparations, cleaning and organization, child and elderly care, and many other personal robotics applications. Instead of learning to sort widgets from an assembly line, the lab hopes that their research can lead a Baxter and similar robots to learn to handle dirty diapers, to lend a hand in cleaning up a kitchen, or to take out the trash, freeing people to spend more time on the activities they enjoy.

To learn more about Baxter, come to Albert Huang's HCRI Talk on Wednesday, November 6 at 12pm in Barus and Holley Room 190. Albert is a Brown alumnus who currently leads the cognition team at Rethink Robotics, which makes the Baxter robot.

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