Meet Baxter - A Robot That Teaches College Students At University of California

All of us have seen robots working in industries, assembling smartphones, handing intricate jobs, and in almost all the fields ranging from research to manufacturing and now finally into teaching domain. You might have also heard about robot Amputee Turned To Cyborg Drummer By Robotic Prosthesisand #-Link-Snipped-#, but have you ever heard of robots teaching students in class room? Well Rodney Brooks, founder of a start-up company, Smart Collaborative Robots | Rethink Robotics and world's most celebrated roboticist brings to you Baxter Robot that has abilities of teaching college students. Baxter is a friendly looking robo-dude. Its face is an animated screen programmed with a smile. It has sensors surrounding its head that allow him to sense people nearby. These sensors also give him the ability to adapt to its environment. Baxter runs on the open-source Robot Operating System (ROS) which is embedded in its chest.


It teaches students at the University of California, Berkeley about the principles of using and coding for robotics. It teaches a class of around 30 students, alongside a professor. Presently students use Python and other coding languages to control Baxter's variety of sensors, which are not most accurate in the industry. Hence, Baxter can help students learn principles of coding and get hands-on experience of the same. This can be really helpful for students as a new revolution has begun in the robotics industry and that is to move towards a more more standardized OS. However, the best part is that Baxter is teaching the next generation of builders how to use it. This robot has got two highlighting features, one that it is the safest robot available in the universe, second is that it is powered by a universal operating system. This OS allows anyone to build apps that can run across a variety of machines as it supports app development.


A group of students from the same class, programmed Baxter to “clean up” a table, showing it first where certain items on a table belong and then shuffling the items around. Using its camera and other sensors, Baxter was able to identify the objects and move them back to their original resting spots. Yes it really worked. But demos didn’t work, Certainly neither Baxter nor the students are perfect. But despite the somewhat trial and error nature of Baxter, it was obvious that it is a huge hands-on asset to a class of kids who might be building your next assembly line.


These thing might sound very familiar to most of you because you might have read or heard about Kuka Robot which is another example of this kind of teaching robot which also supports app development. Kuka is much like an industrial kind of robot, which is more precise and expensive. However, the most advantageous part with this robot is that compared to other learning bots which can cost you around 2,50,000 USD, you can get Baxter at an affordable cost of 22,000 USD. Also Rethink Robotics and Baxter might sound familiar to you as this is the same company that built industrial robot (Baxter) in 2012 and low-cost user friendly research robot in the same year.

The idea is that someday, the entire robotics industry will share this underlying software. Professors, developers, and robot creators alike hope the same mobile revolution that came from the birth of iOS and Android will come to robotics. Early in the evolution of the computer, both the hardware and software were expensive and customized. The true PC revolution came when users were able to buy a standard platform that they could expand and upgrade to fit their specific needs and that's what Rethink is offering. So what do you think can Rethink Robotics brink about the revolution in this industry? As history clearly reveals its successful attempts of developing cost-efficient and safe robots in manufacturing, research and now in teaching domain. The day is not far enough that bots will become an important part of our lives, assisting us in making crucial decisions, helping in daily chores, and helping us in every task we perform. Share your views in comments below.

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