Rethink Robotics has recently showcased its new design for a small and more efficient robot Sawyer. Gone are the days where we used to picture robots as typical factory machines performing simple tasks. Sawyer is a single-arm, high-performance robot designed to execute machine tending, circuit board testing and other precise tasks that have historically been impractical to automate with traditional industrial robots. Sawyer is a significant addition to the company’s smart, collaborative robot family, which also includes the groundbreaking Baxter™ robot that defined the category of safe, interactive, affordable automation.
Sawyer is a high performance robot designed for machine tending and other precise applications. The one-armed robot is designed to be as people-friendly as its predecessor also provides with highly-touted safety, compliance and usability advantages, with a touchscreen for a face and software that lets you teach it by guiding it with your hands. The big improvements are in the arm itself. Sawyer is using new actuators and joints that make it smaller, faster and more precise, which should help with assembling or verifying lots of tiny parts. In addition, Sawyer runs on the Intera™ software system, the same extensible platform that powers Baxter, so it works like humans do by dynamically adapting to real-world conditions on the plant floor and integrating seamlessly into existing work cells. It is also claimed that together, Baxter and Sawyer can address many of the estimated 90 percent of manufacturing tasks that cannot be feasibly automated with traditional solutions today.
With Baxter, we introduced the concept of robots and people working together on the plant floor and with Sawyer, we have taken that relationship to the next level, with a high performance robot that opens the door for many new applications that have never been good candidates for automation. As we continue to redefine this industry, we also continue to give manufacturers new ways of adding efficiency and flexibility into their operations.
– Rethink Robotics president and CEO Scott Eckert.
Sawyer weighs only 19 kg (42 lbs), Sawyer features a 4kg (8.8 lb) payload, with 7 degrees of freedom and a 1-meter reach that can maneuver into the tight spaces and varied alignments of work cells designed for humans. One wouldn’t think of buying Sawyer themselves as it costs approx. $29,000 when it is revealed later this year. However, it could be a big deal in the electronics world, where manufacturers have been looking for ways to replace more overworked factory employees with automatons. Sawyer can not only handle duties that were once difficult for robots, but adapt to new challenges — the combination of learn-by-doing code and force-sensing joints helps it deal with the imperfect conditions of assembly lines. Sawyer will be released with limited availability in the summer of 2015, with general customer availability targeted for later in the year.