CSE Seminar or Event

A New Class of Industrial Robot

Rodney Brooks

Founder, CTO, and Chairman
Rethink Robotics
Wednesday, May 01, 2013
11:00am - 12:00pm
1670 BBB

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About the Event

Industrial robots have remained much the same in many ways for fifty years. They have been optimized to be accurate and repeatable, and able to follow trajectories reliably. Programming industrial robots has turned into exercises in specifying trajectories, while interfacing to fairly simple one bit signals from other machines or sensory systems. The result has been that the overhead in systems integration has required that industrial robots do essentially the same task for months or years to amortize that integration. Rethink Robotics has developed a new class of industrial robot that is optimized to be safe, adaptable and retaskable. Ordinary factory workers can learn in minutes to train it, and the setup time for new tasks can itself be minutes and it can make sense to get the robot to do multiple new tasks each day. The target market for the robot is small factories which have not previously had industrial robots.

The robot uses ROS and is now also shipping to research universities as a general purpose platform for multi-arm manipulation research.


Rodney Brooks (http://people.csail.mit.edu/brooks) is founder, CTO, and Chairman of Rethink Robotics, a 2008 Boston-based startup. The company is developing a new class of industrial robot that will help keep manufacturing jobs in America. Rethink's robots are to current industrial robots what the PC was to the mainframe. The new robots are made in the USA.

Brooks was also a co-founder of iRobot (Nasdaq: IRBT) and was variously CTO, Chairman, and board member from 1990 until 2011. From 1984 to 2010 he was on the faculty at MIT as the Panasonic Professor of Robotics, and was the director of MIT CSAIL, the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. While at MIT he developed the behavior-based approach to robotics that underlies the robots of both iRobot and Rethink Robotics.

Additional Information

Sponsor(s): CSE

Open to: Public