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Baxter The Robot Comes To Canada

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Baxter. Image: www.redorbit.com
Baxter. Image: www.redorbit.com

He’s not a child, he’s not a person and he’s not a pet. But he’s smart, he can be trained to do a job and he can do it cheaper than anybody else.

He’s Baxter, the red robot.  Baxter was made by Rethink Robotics, a company in Boston in the U.S.  Now Humber College in Toronto has purchased Baxter.

Baxter is only a metre tall but he can tell you how he feels. His face, which is a screen with cartoon eyes, shows different expressions. He might be confused or his eyes might be closed to show he’s sleeping.

Baxter doesn’t need programming. He can be trained by a person on the job just by showing him what to do. And you can add tasks for him to do with software upgrades. He will move from job to job easily and he operates safety standing right beside to a person.

Usually robots are hundreds of thousands of dollars, but Baxter is only about $25,000, so even small companies can afford him.

There is also a Baxter research version that helps ideas change into real inventions.

There is always a debate when robots take on jobs. Supporters of robots say that if robots do a lot of the boring jobs, it allows humans to do safer, more interesting work.

But critics of robots say that robots take jobs away from humans who need paid work.

Related links
The website of Baxter’s maker, Rethink Robotics, with more information about Baxter.

Curriculum Connections
By Kathleen Tilly

Discussion/Writing Prompt
The article ends with the debate around robots in the workplace. Some people think that robots free up time for humans to do more interesting, challenging work. Other people think that robots take away jobs from humans.

What is your opinion on the subject? Do you see robots in the workplace as positive or negative?

Reading Prompt: Extending Understanding
Many people think that as time and technology progresses, more robots will be used in the workplace. List at least 10 jobs that robots could do and then create a list of at least 10 jobs that robots couldn’t do. What are the differences between these two lists?

Junior
Extend understanding of texts by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading, 1.6)

Intermediate
Extend understanding of texts, including increasingly complex or difficult texts, by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading, 1.6)

Language Feature: The Oxford Comma
The Oxford Comma is an optional comma that is used before the word ‘and’ in a list.

For example: “The child went to the grocery store to buy eggs, cheese, and bread.” This sentence uses the Oxford Comma before the word ‘and’.

Read the article carefully to figure out whether journalists use the Oxford Comma in their writing.