As capable and adaptable as Baxter is, it’s not a robot that’s well known for its mobility. You can get some wheels for it, but you’re still stuck pushing it around when you want it to move anywhere. Sensing an opportunity in the forthcoming age of mobile manipulators, Clearpath Robotics is announcing Ridgeback, an “omnidirectional development platform” designed to give Baxter, or any other research robot, some much-needed mobility.
Ridgeback weights 125 kg and can haul around up to 100 kg on its back. It rides on four independently controlled Swedish wheels, which is the general term for mecanum wheels, which is the specific term for those weird-looking wheels that can go sideways. This drive system allows Ridgeback to translate in any direction, as well as rotate in place. It has a top speed of 1.1 m/s, and can run for up to eight hours, although it’ll obviously tire out earlier if you’ve got a bunch of stuff plugged into it.
As far as sensors go, each Ridgeback comes standard with a 10-meter, 270-degree navigation laser mounted in the front, along with the option for one at the back. An integrated computer comes standard, as does out of the box ROS compatibility, just like with pretty much everything Clearpath puts together.
Ridgeback will run you between US $35,000 and $40,000, depending on how you’d like it configured, and it’ll be on display at Clearpath Robotics’ booth at ICRA 2015 in Seattle.