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Sunday, October 07, 2018

Rethink Robotics Shuts Down

We followed this effort for some time,  notably the Baxter robot, but it may well depend on how you define collaborative robotics.  Where does the task begin and end?  How do you train humans to be usefully collaborative?   Should you wait for maximum robotic autonomy?    Below the starting excerpt, later in the piece,  founder Rodney Brooks is interviewed, which is insightful.  He suggests much has been learned and sales efforts may have been lacking.

Rethink Robotics, Pioneer of Collaborative Robots, Shuts Down

Rodney Brooks’s startup developed a new class of factory robots that could safely work alongside people. Then came the hardest part: selling them

By Erico Guizzo and Evan Ackerman in IEEE Spectrum

The Bad Boy of Robotics was in high spirits. Rodney Brooks had a lot to show us as we zigzagged through Rethink Robotics’ office in Boston on a June morning in 2012. That was the day Brooks introduced us to Baxter, a robot he said would transform manufacturing and “sell like hotcakes.”

So it was with a bit of sadness that we found out last night that Rethink is shutting down. After a long, 10-year run (the company was founded as Heartland Robotics, remember?) and US $150 million raised from investors, Rethink ran out of steam as sales fell short of the company’s goals. The news of the closing was first reported by the Robot Report yesterday. ... "

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