Thursday, May 16, 2013

Disruptive Technology: Baxter

We were fortunate to be involved with motion control as it became practical for general automation in the mid-1980s. ONExia (called “Multitech” back then) was an early distributor for a California start-up named Compumotor, which sold stepping motor drives, controls and motors and then later, servo motors, controllers and drives.

Compumotor pioneered industrial applications for microstepping technology, which had been developed at Hewlett Packard for application in printers. Microstepping enabled stepping motors to rotate smoothly and precisely at all speeds and eliminated most problems with resonance. With easy-to-use-out-of-the-box drives and controllers, Compumotor was truly revolutionary. We had a great time presenting this new technology at seminars and applying this new product in a great variety of automation applications. Compumotor was acquired by Parker Hannifin Corporation which has continued to enhance and develop the products, as well as combine them with compatible technologies such as precision positioning systems and linear actuators.

Baxter is a new robot from Rethink Robotics that promises to be even more exciting and revolutionary than Compumotor. Baxter is the first commercially available robot that is designed to work side-by-side with humans. Baxter can be thought of and applied more as a “co-worker” than as a machine. It is not programed but, rather, can be “shown” what you want it to do, perhaps by a co-worker. By design it cannot hurt anyone and does not require a cage or other protection. At around $32,000 fully loaded with end effectors and extended warranty, it can be employed for under$4.50 per hour!

ONExia has two demonstration robots on order and will be scheduling seminars around our marketing area. Watch our website ( for information on a seminar near you.

Greg Selke
CEO ONExia Inc