New Robot Designed to Work With Humans Wows DCC Crowd

Danville, VA - A new robot that's already been making headlines across the country made its Southside debut at Danville Community College.

Baxter is the new face of collaborative robotics and his creators say he has a lot to offer.

Unlike his human counter parts, Baxter takes no breaks, no vacation days, and he needs no insurance. Baxter just works.
"We see a couple of different areas we could probably implement the Baxter robot to do some of our operations, " said local mechanical designer Scott Carson.
Carson works for Unarco Industries. He says his company is already using robots, but Baxter is different. It's made from plastic and rubber, not unforgiving steel, and it has a variety of facial expressions that show when it's ready to work or when it's confused.
It uses sonar to detect when a person or object has come into its path - making Baxter a safe alternative for close contact with humans.
"This robot has a lot of capabilities that a robot like this does not have, " said DCC's Director of Manufacturing and Tech. Services, Jerry Franklin.
He brought Baxter to DCC to show local industries what the technology could do for them, but he admits that Baxter presents a threat to low-skilled workers.
"Picking something off of a conveyor and putting it in a box - this would probably displace anyone that had a job like that, " Franklin said, but according to him, many of those jobs were already being outsourced to other countries.
He says now, folks entering the workforce must focus on education.
"The people who have the education are going to be able to have the jobs. The people who do not have the education, low level jobs like this they're going to go away, and that's just the way that progress is, " Franklin said.
Baxter is made in America, so many jobs have been created during its production and design process.

The robot's capabilities are quickly expanding. A new software update will be available on Friday.