Children as young as ten years old are now learning how to train robots in their schools as a result of Rethink Robotics’ expanding distribution of the Baxter Research Robot.
The Baxter Research Robot is a humanoid robot designed to help in fields such as healthcare, manufacturing and education. The robots can typically be found in laboratories, graduate and undergraduate programs, and are even being used as an educational tool in primary school classrooms.
According to Scott Eckert, the CEO of Rethink Robotics, “By the time [today’s students] enter the workforce, robots will be integrated into nearly every industry, as we see in manufacturing today.”
Indeed, robots are becoming a crucial component for automotive, plastics, electronics and various other industries that string together manual tasks to build their products, as they provide cheap and reliable labour.
The increasing use of robots in many fields has stirred fears of job displacement for human workers. But by educating children about how to operate robots and perhaps even program or design them, we can ensure that people will adapt their future careers to the use of robots.
In addition, students will learn how they can improve the robots of the future to optimize efficiency in their workplaces while maintaining a healthy job market.
“These children will have an important advantage—experience—thanks to the K-12 schools, colleges and universities that are investing in robotics now,” Eckert stated.
Rethink Robotics has recently partnered with three new distributors, Robotshop, Teq, and Gaitech International, giving classrooms around the world the opportunity to use Baxter, not just those in the US where the Rethink’s robots are designed and manufactured.
“Robotics already play a large part in the educational market and corporate [research and development] markets and that will only continue to grow. Providing Baxter Research Robots to the Asian market is a logical and important step in that growth,” said Jenssen Chang, CEO of Gaitech International.
The use of robots in the classroom points to a future where they are a normal and indispensable part of everyday life in our homes, school and workplaces. Nearly every job could require some level of interaction with robots.
As this vision of the future becomes a reality, it will become more important than ever for all people to have baseline knowledge about robots and how they operate.
Perhaps one day robot training programs such as the one Baxter provides will even become mandatory curriculum for schools.
Images and video courtesy of Rethink Robotics.