New Beginnings for Rethink Robotics

It was big news, big sad news when Rethink Robotics closed its doors on October 3rd, 2018. This brought the curtain down on one of the best known names in the robotics research field.

The company was well known for its collaborative robots Baxter and Sawyer. Baxter is an industrial robot that was effective in replacing dull jobs on a production line such as loading, sorting or handling materials. With its close attention to detail and array of sensors, it intelligently adapted to the environment and easy to reprogram. Sawyer, on the other hand, is a performance robot specializing in precise tasks impractical for industrial robots. Weighing only 19kg and featuring 7 degrees of freedom with more than 1m reach, is the answer to higher productivity and greater efficiency.

The two-arm Baxter and the one-arm Sawyer had become the face of cobots (collaborative robots), literally, thanks to their animated screen with dynamic facial expressions. It also didn’t hurt that Rethink Robotics was founded by Rodney Brooks, the rock star of Robotics. He is best known for his interest in behavior-based robotics and leading roles at both the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Beyond his involvement in Rethink Robotics, he also founded the technology company iRobot.

The two-arm Baxter and the one-arm Sawyer had become the face of cobots (collaborative robots), literally, thanks to their animated screen with dynamic facial expressions. It also didn’t hurt that Rethink Robotics was founded by Rodney Brooks, the rock star of Robotics. He is best known for his interest in behavior-based robotics and leading roles at both the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Beyond his involvement in Rethink Robotics, he also founded the technology company iRobot.

The robotics community had bid a sad farewell to Baxter and Sawyer.  However, in a dramatic turn of events, Hahn Group of Germany recently announced its acquisition of the Rethink Robotics technology and IP. The Sawyer, as fate would have it, is back.

Hahn Robotics, owned by the Hahn Group has now relaunched the Sawyer and the Intera5 software. They are also working on expanding the features and capabilities of the Sawyer robot. It's kind of like Boston Creativity meets German Engineering. A match made in heaven or in the robotics cloud.

Clearpath is excited about this development and is working with Hahn Robotics to offer the Sawyer with the Intera5 software and complete ROS support to the research community.  It is a golden opportunity to integrate such a robot designed for a wide variety of high speed, high precision tasks that require flexibility and safety with our mobile robot platforms. In fact, the collaboration between Clearpath and Rethink Robotics goes back further, as Clearpath’s very own Ridgeback platform was designed as a mobile base for Baxter.

Check out our extensive range of cobots at the Clearpath Store.

To learn more about Sawyer, click here.

Next article Clearpath Updates LORD Microstrain IMU ROS Driver with Key Features