Reuters - Video

EDITION: U.S. | U.K. | IN

Video

Baxter the robot readied for U.S. factory revival

Wednesday, 17 Oct, 2012 - 02:50

Oct. 17 - The revival of manufacturing in the U.S. has been a hot topic for debate in the run-up to the presidential election, but one company based in Boston believes the answer lies not in factory jobs for humans, but for robots. Rethink Robotics has developed a low cost automoton they say could re-energize factory floors and allow U.S. manufacturers to compete with low wage countries like China. Ben Gruber reports.

▲ Hide Transcript

View Transcript

Baxter the robot will happily perform even the most mundane task over and over again...and it will do it for less than minimum wage. Baxter is the brainchild of Rodney Brooks, a former MIT professor and now the founder and CTO of Boston start-up Rethink Robotics. Brooks has spent most of his life developing robots. He describes Baxter as a game-changer with the potential to resurrect the U.S. manufacturing industry, and with $69 million in venture capital already raised, some think he's right. (SOUNDBITE) (English) RODNEY BROOKS, FOUNDER AND CTO, RETHINK ROBOTICS, SAYING: "People get really bored doing the same task again and again and they start to make errors so let the robot do the dull mindless task but you have to have it so it is easy to set up what that task is and tell the robot what it is so that you don't have to bring in a team of engineers every time you want to change your process. And in lots of small factories a particular product run may only be two hours before they switch over the line to do something else because that are doing small batches all of the time. So it has not been a good place for automation up until now." But Brooks says the creation of Baxter changes that. He says the robots' artificial intelligence and computer vision combine to make the ideal factory worker. Baxter has a total of five cameras - two of which are embedded in its hands that act as eyes. It also has a host of motion detectors and range finders that allow the robot to sense its surroundings. But Rethink Robotics CEO Scott Eckert says its Baxter's easy to use programming which sets the robot apart. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SCOTT ECKERT, PRESIDENT AND CEO, RETHINK ROBOTICS, SAYING: "You train Baxter like you would train a person to do a job. You actually grab the arm of Baxter and you show Baxter where stuff is that you need to pick up, you squeeze and button and Baxter picks it up. You show Baxter where he needs to put it and you squeeze a button and Baxter puts it there. You tell Baxter go and he will do exactly what you just showed him." Brooks says that all of the robots common sense - like not hurting humans and having the ability to realise when it's finished a task - are all pre-programmed into the robots software. But is replacing humans with robots good for the economy? Eckert says yes. He says by making U.S. manufacturers more competitive, companies will have more time and money to train workers for higher level jobs. He says the ultimate goal is making manufacturers more productive. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SCOTT ECKERT, PRESIDENT AND CEO, RETHINK ROBOTICS, SAYING: "Baxter is the next step of that. How do we go after the next types of jobs that we haven't been able to automate to get more productivity out of American manufacturers? If they are more productive than they are more competitive with their low cost competitors. We bring jobs back to the U.S. and we restore U.S. manufacturing." Eckert and Brooks say the first generation of Baxter's are ready to report to work at factories across the United States.

Baxter the robot readied for U.S. factory revival

Wednesday, 17 Oct, 2012 - 02:50

Editors' Picks »

The Exchange »

The Exchange: Hot commodity The Exchange: Hot commodity

Wed, 16 Jul, 2014 - (9:25)

The Exchange: Constitutional crusade The Exchange: Constitutional crusade

Wed, 25 Jun, 2014 - (11:35)

The Exchange: The value of money The Exchange: The value of money

Mon, 02 Jun, 2014 - (9:53)

The Exchange: China’s Second Continent The Exchange: China’s Second Continent

Tue, 27 May, 2014 - (9:35)

The Exchange: A master of business arts The Exchange: A master of business arts

Thu, 08 May, 2014 - (8:24)

The Exchange: America's bankrupt cities The Exchange: America's bankrupt cities

Mon, 05 May, 2014 - (8:52)

The Exchange: Let the rocking commence The Exchange: Let the rocking commence

Tue, 08 Apr, 2014 - (8:13)

The Exchange: The Moneyball fallacies The Exchange: The Moneyball fallacies

Mon, 24 Mar, 2014 - (9:54)

Is doing good a good business? Is doing good a good business?

Mon, 17 Mar, 2014 - (7:38)

Oddly Enough »

Baby gorilla finds her feet Baby gorilla finds her feet

Tue, 02 Sep, 2014 - (0:49)

Elephants 'lovin' polo tournament Elephants 'lovin' polo tournament

Thu, 28 Aug, 2014 - (1:31)

Triplet pandas celebrate a milestone Triplet pandas celebrate a milestone

Thu, 28 Aug, 2014 - (0:48)

Group shatters record for longest flower garland by a mile Group shatters record for longest flower...

Wed, 27 Aug, 2014 - (1:30)

Masked hero sweeps clean Masked hero sweeps clean

Tue, 26 Aug, 2014 - (1:10)

Right muddy mess at World Bog Snorkeling Championships Right muddy mess at World Bog Snorkeling...

Tue, 26 Aug, 2014 - (1:11)

Hello Kitty conquers space Hello Kitty conquers space

Mon, 25 Aug, 2014 - (1:11)

Japanese zoo welcomes red panda cub Japanese zoo welcomes red panda cub

Mon, 25 Aug, 2014 - (0:42)

Is it a plane? No, it's a hoverbike Is it a plane? No, it's a hoverbike

Fri, 22 Aug, 2014 - (2:40)

Fox kicks off "Simpsons" mega marathon Fox kicks off "Simpsons" mega marathon

Thu, 21 Aug, 2014 - (0:56)

Reuters Investigates »

Re-homing victim: "I could have been dead" Re-homing victim: "I could have been dead"

Wed, 19 Feb, 2014 - (8:24)

Cops and loggers in the Amazon rainforest Cops and loggers in the Amazon rainforest

Fri, 10 Jan, 2014 - (4:01)

"Passed around like a dog" "Passed around like a dog"

Thu, 29 Aug, 2013 - (6:32)

Adopted, then abandoned online Adopted, then abandoned online

Thu, 29 Aug, 2013 - (13:21)

How the DEA keeps its secrets secret How the DEA keeps its secrets secret

Mon, 05 Aug, 2013 - (1:36)

How education lost its role as the great equalizer - Reuters Investigates How education lost its role as the great...

Mon, 17 Dec, 2012 - (7:52)

Jihad Jane: From abused child to American jihadist - Reuters Investigates Jihad Jane: From abused child to American...

Sun, 09 Dec, 2012 - (10:01)

Jihad Jane: The order to kill - Reuters Investigates Jihad Jane: The order to kill - Reuters...

Mon, 10 Dec, 2012 - (10:39)

Moving Pictures »

Images of August Images of August

Fri, 29 Aug, 2014 - (1:00)

Burning Together Burning Together

Mon, 01 Sep, 2014 - (2:23)

Mending dolls, teddies and hearts Mending dolls, teddies and hearts

Fri, 22 Aug, 2014 - (3:12)

"Old timers" sail the Chesapeake Bay "Old timers" sail the Chesapeake Bay

Mon, 11 Aug, 2014 - (2:27)

Burned memories Burned memories

Fri, 08 Aug, 2014 - (3:02)

Images of July Images of July

Fri, 01 Aug, 2014 - (1:20)

World Cup: passion on the pitch World Cup: passion on the pitch

Fri, 11 Jul, 2014 - (1:00)

A refugee in America gives back A refugee in America gives back

Thu, 03 Jul, 2014 - (3:25)

A long search for refuge A long search for refuge

Fri, 20 Jun, 2014 - (3:04)

World Cup: Around the globe in 50 goals World Cup: Around the globe in 50 goals

Fri, 06 Jun, 2014 - (1:08)