Co-working robots are the near future of work. As long as we still need humans somewhere on the factory floor, we need robots that can safely operate next to those humans. The most famous example of a co-working robot is Rethink Robotics’ Baxter. But, of course, co-working can’t be a category of one, and this new Tend.ai thing looks promising.
Basically, with Tend.ai you buy a regular robot arm, and attach a regular webcam to it, and then you let Tend.ai supply the smarts. Specifically, Tend.ai is designed to help with “machine tending,” which is basically adding materials and removing finished product from machinery — like 3D printers, for instance. You can “train” your robot arm on a task by simply moving the robot arm around and demonstrating the task you want performed — just like how Baxter works. With the camera the robot can read status messages from the machinery and act accordingly. Tend.ai will also have ready-to-go scripts for popular machines, and everything you do will apparently end up in the cloud to improve the system for everyone.
Does the future of work involve teaching the robot who will eventually replace you? Probably. And I guess that’s kind of a cool way to go out.
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