How Rethink Robotics Built Its New Baxter Robot Worker

Rodney Brooks's new start-up wants to spark a factory revolution with a low-cost, user-friendly robot

14 min read
Photo of Rodney Brooks with Baxter
Photo: David Yellen

meet baxter: Rethink Robotics has developed a next-generation factory robot that is versatile, easy to program, and costs just US $22 000.\u2029

Photo: David Yellen for IEEE Spectrum
MEET BAXTER: Rethink Robotics has developed a next-generation factory robot that is versatile, easy to program, and costs just US $22 000.


In the center of an otherwise unremarkable office stand six large robotic torsos mounted on pedestals and positioned along a bench that’s covered with piles of plastic widgets.


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Acer Goes Big on Glasses-Free, 3D Monitors—Look Out, VR

Is this what’s needed to bring augmented reality to the home office?

4 min read
A standing tablet computer shows a blow out of a car that appears to be coming out of the display.

Content creators are a key target for Acer's glasses-free 3D.

Acer

Acer, the world’s fifth largest PC brand, wants to take the growing AR/VR market by the horns with its SpatialLabs glasses-free stereoscopic 3D displays.

First teased in 2021 in a variant of Acer’s ConceptD 7 laptop, the technology expands this summer in a pair of portable monitors, the SpatialLabs View and View Pro, and select Acer Predator gaming laptops. The launch is paired with AI-powered software for converting existing 2D content into stereoscopic 3D.

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DARPA Wants a Better, Badder Caspian Sea Monster

Liberty Lifter X-plane will leverage ground effect

4 min read
A rendering of a grey seaplane with twin fuselages and backwards-facing propellers
DARPA

Arguably, the primary job of any military organization is moving enormous amounts of stuff from one place to another as quickly and efficiently as possible. Some of that stuff is weaponry, but the vast majority are things that support that weaponry—fuel, spare parts, personnel, and so on. At the moment, the U.S. military has two options when it comes to transporting large amounts of payload. Option one is boats (a sealift), which are efficient, but also slow and require ports. Option two is planes (an airlift), which are faster by a couple of orders of magnitude, but also expensive and require runways.

To solve this, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) wants to combine traditional sealift and airlift with the Liberty Lifter program, which aims to “design, build, and flight test an affordable, innovative, and disruptive seaplane” that “enables efficient theater-range transport of large payloads at speeds far exceeding existing sea lift platforms.”

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Automating Road Maintenance With LiDAR Technology

Team from SICK’s TiM$10K Challenge creates system to automate road maintenance

4 min read

Developed by a team of students at Worcester Polytechnic Institute as part of SICK's TiM$10K Challenge, their ROADGNAR system uses LiDAR to collect detailed data on the surface of a roadway.

SICK

This is a sponsored article brought to you by SICK Inc..

From advanced manufacturing to automated vehicles, engineers are using LiDAR to change the world as we know it. For the second year, students from across the country submitted projects to SICK's annual TiM$10K Challenge.

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