Rethink Robotics

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One of Boston’s highest-profile robotics companies announced in a federal filing this week that it has collected almost $27 million in fresh funding. Rethink Robotics sells a two-armed robot called Baxter that can be easily trained to perform a variety of tasks. Rethink’s founder is Rodney Brooks, the former MIT professor who co-founded iRobot Corp., and one of its earliest backers was Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos.More →

Odds are good that no one at yesterday’s “Computing the Future” symposium at MIT, organized to mark the 50th anniversary of computer science and artificial intelligence research at the school, imagined they’d be watching a black-and-white video clip of Julia Child deftly slicing potatoes. But Matt Mason of Carnegie Mellon University showed it to make a point: technology is still far behind humans when it comes to perceiving and interacting with the world. Mason and other speakers who focused on the robotics field emphasized how many problems remain to be solved. Perhaps the biggest laugh of yesterday morning’s session came during another video clip, when the AlphaDog robot from Boston Dynamics, above, was pushed by an employee trying to test its stability — and promptly rolled over and smashed into a parked car. “That’s the new guy’s car,” another employee noted.More →

In May CSAIL will commemorate a half-century of computer science at MIT with “MAC50,” a two-day symposium that both reflects on MIT’s history and explores the future of computing, with talks on robotics, artificial intelligence, big data, privacy, and other pressing topics.More →