Rethink delivers Baxter the friendly worker robot, prepares us for our future metal overlords (video)

Rethink delivers Baxter the friendly worker robot, prepares us for our future metal overlords video

No one would characterize existing factory robots as especially warm and fuzzy: they're usually disembodied limbs that are more likely to cut you than hug you. Rethink Robotics wants to put a friendly face on those machines, both figuratively and literally. Its about-to-ship Baxter worker robot carries a touchscreen face that's as much about communicating its intent as giving humans something more relatable. Likewise, it's designed to be easily programmed by its organic coworkers and react appropriately -- you guide Baxter by one of its two arms to tell it what to do, and its combination of cameras and a quad-core processor let it adapt to real-world imperfections. Even the series elastic actuators in its arms give it a softer, subtler movement that's less likely to damage products or people. While Baxter isn't as ruthlessly quick as most of its peers, the relatively low $22,000 price and promise of an SDK for its Linux brain in 2013 should make it easier to accept than the six-digit costs and closed platforms of alternatives. We just hope we're not being lulled into a false sense of security as lovable robots invade our manufacturing base ahead of the inevitable Robopocalypse.

[Thanks to everyone who sent this in]