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Baxter is an industrial robot built by Rethink Robotics, a start-up company founded by Rodney Brooks. Baxter was introduced in September 2011, and was succeeded by the robot Sawyer. Baxter is a two-armed robot with an animated face. It is 3 feet tall and weighs 165 lbs without its pedestal; with its pedestal it is between 5'10" – 6'3" tall and weighs 306 lbs. It is used for simple industrial jobs such as loading, unloading, sorting, and handling of materials. Brooks stated that Baxter was designed to perform the dull tasks on a production line. It is intended to be sold to small and medium-sized companies.
|Year of creation||2012|
|Purpose||simple industrial jobs|
Baxter has an animated screen for a "face" that allows it to display multiple facial expressions determined by its current status. There are sets of sensors on its head that allow it to sense people nearby and give Baxter the ability to adapt to its environment. These sensors give Baxter the ability to adapt to its surroundings, unlike other industrial robots which will either shut down or continue running incorrectly when their environment changes. For example, if it drops a tool without which he cannot do its job, whereas some robots will continue to attempt to perform their job despite lacking the proper tools, Baxter will not continue with the job.  Baxter runs on the open-source Robot Operating System on a regular, personal computer which is in its chest. Baxter can be placed on a four-legged pedestal with wheels to become mobile. Baxter also has extra sensors in its hands that allow it to pay very close attention to detail.
As opposed to traditional robots, which are programmed to follow a specific set of commands, Baxter can be programmed by moving its hand to perform a task whose motions the computer will then memorize and be able to repeat the task. Extra dials, buttons, and controls are available on Baxter's arm for more precision and features. While most of other industrial robots require computer programmers to code them over many hours, programming Baxter can be done by unskilled workers in a few minutes.
Many universities are now using Baxter as part of their course in Robotics, Mechanical Engineering and Computational Sciences to give students the experience of using current robotics technology to provide practical applications in the real world. Baxter provides many advantages over traditional robots in that no cages are required for usage and students can work alongside him in a classroom environment without the potential of accidents. This feature is also useful for Baxter's application in commercial usage. Researchers are now using Baxter to try to find solutions to current problems being faced by Ebola workers in West Africa to create a robotic solution to reduce the risk of infection for aid workers. Currently, the head-mounted camera, sonar head sensors, and IR hand lighting is only available for use on the Research Robot model of Baxter.
Other industrial robots are built to perform one task rapidly with many fast-moving parts that make them unsafe for working alongside humans. Baxter has sensors in its hands and around its arms allowing it to detect and adapt to its surroundings. This enables it to sense potential collision events early and can reduce the force before the impact. This is due to a motor driving a spring which drives Baxter's arm instead of just a motor driving its arms. Extra sensors and cameras within Baxter's hands allow it to pay attention to detail while working with its hands. These extra sensors and abilities makes Baxter less hazardous.
Baxter has a base-price of $25,000 (£19,000/ €22,000), the equivalent of an average US production worker's annual salary.  Rethink Robotics also sells additional parts, such as an electric parallel gripper, a vacuum cup gripper and the mobile pedestal, to add to a customer's Baxter, as well as extended warranties.
Skeptics are concerned about the introduction of Baxter into production lines, and think Baxter takes away low-wage manual labor jobs. On the other hand, supporters argue that Baxter does not take jobs because humans are still needed to supervise and teach Baxter to perform tasks.
According to Brooks, Baxter is not a threat to human jobs because Baxter's ability is limited in tasks such as quality assurance or small assembly where things like sensing tension are important. In those cases, a human is unlikely to be replaced by robots like Baxter.
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