Up Close And Personal With Rethink Robotics’ Sawyer Robot
Without fail, whenever there are robots in a booth at a trade show, people are going to stop and stare.
Without fail, whenever there are robots in a booth at a trade show, people are going to stop and stare. And that was no exception at the Rethink Robotics booth at the recent Pack Expo Las Vegas. During the show, Rethink Robots showcased both its Baxter and Sawyer robots.
Baxter, the company’s category-creating first product robot, can be used for injection molding. For instance, Crescent Industries uses Baxter to work alongside Crescent team members on the company’s injection molding press. Baxter shifts quickly between parts and products and ensures that feeding and unloading the press remains on schedule. By engaging Baxter to load and unload the injection molding press, Crescent Industries plans to shift its employees to more complex jobs and supervisory roles, which helps to improve efficiency in other areas.
At the show, Rethink Robotics announced that its collaborative robot Sawyer is now available for purchase. Weighing about 19 kg (42 lb), Sawyer features seven degrees of ‘freedom’ with a 1260 mm meter reach that can maneuver into the tight spaces and varied alignments of work cells designed for humans. Its compliant motion control allows it to “feel” its way into fixtures or machines, even when the position varies slightly. According to Rethink Robotics, this enables the company’s adaptive repeatability that is reportedly unique in the robotics industry and allows Sawyer to work precisely (+/- .1 mm) in semi-structured environments, while operating safely next to human co-workers. Rethink says that Sawyer starts with a base price of $29,000.
Like Baxter, Sawyer is powered by the software platform, Intera. It features the same iconic “face” screen (with a refreshed and even more expressive design) that helps it communicate with co-workers, along with the train-by-demonstration user interface. Sawyer runs on the same version of Intera as Baxter, and will continue to evolve and improve with regular upgrades. Sawyer is designed to execute machine tending, circuit board testing and other precise tasks that have historically been impractical to automate.
I took some video of Sawyer working with packaging during Pack Expo–take a look!