Rethink Robotics Baxter

Baxter in a workshopEveryone has known that Rodney Brooks new company, Rethink Robotics was going to come out with something big and they have not disappointed. Baxter is a compliant two armed robot that runs ROS,  comes with an application stack that allows a non-programmer teach it to perform repetitive tasks and somehow only costs $22k! Recently I’ve been working with some amazing makers on creating a new, robotics focused, hackerspace. The more I look at Baxter, the more I think it’s perfect for a robotics hackerspace. It would be a great attraction, both people wanting to see it (I love the idea of adding a robot receptionist to the hackerspace standard RFID entry system) and hackers wanting a chance to work with hardware on this level. As a teaching tools, it is both exciting and a real tool so kids will be learning something real. Because it runs ROS (and there are rumors there might be a fully open source software stack eventually) it will be great for hacking but at the same time with its default software, small maker businesses could use it to automate some of their production. At $22k, it isn’t the first tool we’ll be able to get but it’s not outside the realm of standard hackerspace tools and it compares really well to both the Nao and the PR2. It will doubtless be a few years but I can’t imagine not having something like this now that they’re in the world.