Rethink Robotics unveils humanoid factory robot

A humanoid robot, designed to operate alongside factory workers in a host of industrial settings, has been unveiled by US company Rethink Robotics.

Dubbed Baxter, the robot is based on work carried out by Rodney Brooks, Rethink’s chief technology officer and a former director of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab.

According to its developers, the machine’s versatility and relatively low cost will bring the benefits of automation within the reach of manufacturers that have been unable to make the huge investments traditionally required.

Brooks claimed that Baxter is able understand and adapt to its environment — making it safe for use alongside humans — and can be shown how to perform tasks, rather than requiring sophisticated computer programming.

Retailing at $22,000 (£13,500), Baxter will begin shipping next month.