(SOS/ASAP/WTF) Robust robot news from Massachusetts this week. Robotics company Rethink has unveiled their new assembly line robot Baxter, destined for the car manufacturing industry among others.
Baxter is being billed as the first true blue collar bot, complete with name tag, young robot family, a past substance abuse problem and a confused look on his LCD face that says, how did I end up working here again?
But does Baxter have secret, lofty personal ambitions and designs on a corner office? Read on.
An SOS truer-than-true story in progress…
But while Baxter’s buzz is about his ability to learn from humans on the assembly line, many suspect him of actually being a secret union negotiator bot, released just in time for major international union negotiations between car manufacturers and their labor unions.
For the low price of 25,000 dollars Baxter comes complete with his own young robot family including robot dog also named Baxter and a box of 24 donuts — just enough to help the entire night-shift crew forget about their disappearing jobs and salaries.
Rethink’s CEO Scott Eckert, says Baxter is capable of growing and learning on the job. Baxter’s programmed WTF? facial expression is designed to communicate confusion and elicit instruction and routine abuse from helpy humans working the line with him, just like any human noob on the floor.
But the timing of Baxter’s release, not to mention his 360 camera head, has many humans wondering if this robot may have a secret and even more successful secondary career as a union negotiator. Just one day after Baxter’s big release announcement, the Big 3 auto makers GM, Chrysler and Ford all reached speedy agreements with their unions who were threatening to go on strike.
So does Baxter secretly have his eye on a lofty promotion, with a big desk and a corner office? Is there a secret union-buster spy bot lurking behind his canned look of confusion?
“Who, me?” said Baxter, flashing his signature expression of innocence. “I’m just the little guy who grips the wrench. How could I be a threat to anyone?”