Rethink Robotics displayed their new single-armed Sawyer robot at the RoboBusiness Conference and Expo in San Jose. It was Sawyer’s first public showing and the crowd of over 1,600 was paying attention.
Sawyer was running a machine tending application that required opening and closing a door andÂ snapping pieces into place – tasks electronics manufacturers regularly need in their assembly process -Â and it performed perfectly. In fact, using its new Cognex camera, Sawyer is able to find what it’s looking for even when the piece isn’t exactly where it is supposed to be.
TheÂ New York TimesÂ recentlyÂ namedÂ Rethink Robotics to a list of 50 technology companies likely to be valued at $1 billion or more in years to come. (Also included in that list were 3D Robotics andÂ Airware.) Funders seem to agree having provided $113.5 million in 7 rounds of funding.
In an interview I had with Rethink’s President and CEO Scott Eckert at the RoboBusiness show, he outlined a rosy future for Sawyer, Rethink, and for their two-armed Baxter robot. Eckert confirmed that up until recently, Baxter sales were mostly in the U.S. and a good portion were to academia (Rethink just recently passed the 1,000 sales mark). But today, after a software update in June which enhanced Baxter’s speed and precision,Â Baxter sales are increasing at 40%-70% each quarter and Sawyer sales are already backlogged.
It’s clear that Rethink has responded to customer feedback. The new Sawyer robot has a longer reach and more precision than Baxter which itself was upgraded to be three times faster and twice as precise as the original version. The results make Rethink’s two robots truly competitive with their primary competitorÂ Universal Robots.
The 2:23 minute video below shows a unit of a company using the new Sawyer, GE Lighting:
Robotiq, a Canadian provider of grippers, recently compared the new Rethink Sawyer and Universal UR3 robots. Here are the results: