Last month a customer of ours came up with the idea of having Sawyer, a collaborative robot, pour beers for their prospective customers at a show in Philadelphia.
Our engineering team was willing to take on the task.
I had the opportunity to attend the show and interact with the robot, the keg, and the customers.
One year ago Sawyer wouldn’t have been able to accomplish this task.
Here are some of the features of the most recent software update (Intera 5) that make the robot more capable:
Integrated Vision: With the most recent update Sawyer utilizes a Cognex camera embedded in the arm of the robot. As you will see in the video Sawyer takes a quick snap shot of the poker ship which the customer slides under the arm. This queues the robot to kick into gear and behind the task of grabbing the cup, placing the cup
Force Sensing: With Intera 5 Sawyer can now sense the amount of force applied in each move. For example, when Sawyer touches the tap to cue the flow of beer into the cup he is applying a specific amount of force to engage the pour. A little too much force would break the tap and not enough force doesn’t get the job done either.
General Fluidness of the Arm: One thing we immediately noticed when we shifted from Intera 3 to Intera 5 was how much smoother the movement of the arm got. We never expected a software change to actually modify the feel of the robot but it did. I am confident that the new feel of the movement made the robot more capable of moving the glass of beer around without spillage.
Thoughts and Conclusions:
If there is one thing we have learned about Rethink it’s that they are an agile organization. Each month there is talk about the next small change making the product more effective and easier to use. From Baxter to Sawyer with Intera 3, to Sawyer with Intera 5, the progress is significant and impactful.
It doesn’t look like Rethink has any plans of slowing down. As of today they just received an additional 18 million dollars of investment from private equity, Bezos Expeditions, GE Ventures, and Goldman Sachs.
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