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October 05, 2009

Heartland Robotics Update

If successful, Heartland’s technology will “change manufacturing economics,” Sobalvarro said.

A breakthrough in robotics and automation is how economist Robin Hanson believes a new level of productivity can be achieved.

A robotics breakthrough to achieve higher manufacturing productivity and lower costs and an nuclear fusion energy breakthrough both seem to emerging before 2020. The key breakthroughs could be in hand in 2-4 years and then a race to commercialize and deploy.

Heartland Robotics Inc., the manufacturing-focused robotics company founded by iRobot Corp. (Nasdaq: IRBT) co-founder Rodney Brooks, has taken in $12 million from three investors, and is aggressively hiring engineers, the Cambridge-based startup announced Monday.

Heartland currently has 17 employees, and plans to hire about 10 more — mostly engineers — in the next few months, said company president Patrick Sobalvarro. The company is working toward an implementation with some of about two dozen design partners in the manufacturing industry, he said.

Unlike the “point-to-point” robots currently used in auto manufacturing, Heartland is focused on deploying intelligent robots into the manufacturing environment, Sobalvarro said. “Everything that we’re doing revolves around increasing productivity,” he said. “That’s absolutely what manufacturers need to look for in industrialized countries where the worker is highly skilled.”



Rodney Brooks, co-founder and CTO of iRobot, is left his iRobot post to found his own robotics company, Heartland Robotics.

Heartland Robotics, based in Cambridge, Mass., will focus on the manufacture of industrial worker robots.

"I want to effect a powerful evolution in the world's labor markets, and my current focus is to develop low-cost robots that will empower American workers," Brooks said in a statement released on his personal Web site.


Rodney Brooks new work talks about "I want to effect a powerful evolution in the world's labor markets, and my current focus is to develop low-cost robots that will empower American workers" which is the same as Heartland Robotics. The new work is focused on the Obrero robot.



The Obrero robot page

Obrero is a humanoid robot especialized in sensitive manipulation: manipulation that is as much about perception as action and is intrinsically responsive to the properties of the object being manipulated; manipulation that does not rely on vision as the main sensor but as a complement.

This work is being done by Eduardo Torres-Jara and supervised by Prof. Rodney A. Brooks.





FURTHER READING
An interview with Richard Walker who is at Shadow Robotics and is developing a robotic hand.

Interview with Faysal Sohail, Managing Director of CMEA Ventures on Robotics

Faysal Sohail of CMEA Ventures believes recent technological breakthroughs have made service robotics viable for domestic application, especially in the areas of home security, vision and sensory robotics, elder care, and lawn care.


There are currently over 1 million industrial robots in the world

Rodney Brooks at wikipedia

Rodney Brooks at MIT

Used industrial robot arms in the $9000-15000 range

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