|Reporting at Boston.com, Scott Kirsner has predicted that the ultra-stealthy Heartland Robotics, founded by Rodney Brooks will be releasing its first products on or before January 2013.|
"Robots will change the way we work," Heartland's web site proclaims. "They will have intelligence and awareness. They will be teachable, safe and affordable. They will make us productive in ways we never imagined."
Rodney Brooks, the founder of Heartland has apparently told people that the company is working on the robotics industry's version of the iPhone — an affordable-enough device (their target price is about $5000) that will be intuitive to use, and that will spawn a community of app developers who write software for it. It'll be designed to perform a variety of packaging or light manufacturing tasks, sources have told me.
The robot may also be capable of being "trained" to perform a certain repetitive task just by moving its arm and gripper. Heartland's product, according to those who've seen it demoed, could potentially put robots in lots of small and medium-sized business.
According to Kirsner,
Now, it looks like Heartland is laying the groundwork for a launch, perhaps at the 2013 Automate trade show in Chicago, put on by the Association for Advancing Automation. Heartland CEO Scott Eckert confirmed that the company will be an exhibitor at the show, but wouldn't say much else.
Heartland also recently hired Mitch Rosenberg to run marketing; he'd previously headed up marketing and product management at Kiva Systems, a maker of warehouse robots recently acquired by Amazon.
That makes it seem like the company could have something to announce fairly soon — perhaps even before next January.
He also noted that "Meka Robotics, Willow Garage and SRI announced a new startup competitor to Heartland, Redwood Robotics. Their new website says that Redwood will be offering a new generation of robot arms which are simple to program, inexpensive, and safe to operate alongside people. Those three partners bring a lot of robotic talent to the table. 2013 is going to be a fascinating year for robotics."
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