World's most advanced robotic arm

Industrial Robot

ISSN: 0143-991x

Publication date: 1 June 2000



(2000), "World's most advanced robotic arm", Industrial Robot, Vol. 27 No. 3.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

World's most advanced robotic arm

World's most advanced robotic arm

Keyword: Robotics

Guinness Book of World Records Millennium Edition recognizes Barrett Technology's WAM™ arm as the world's "most advanced robotic arm".

"This was a nice surprise for us. A good way to start off the New Year!", says Barrett Founder and CEO, Bill Townsend. "It's not every day that we get such an unequivocal endorsement from a source as respected as The Guinness Book."

Indeed, Barrett's uniquely human-friendly robots are based on extraordinarily advanced technology that enables them to feel as well as move. Fifteen years ago, Townsend recognized that for robots to break from niche automation tasks, core technologies would have to be rebuilt from the ground up so that the robots could collaborate hand-in-hand with everyday people.

Townsend's work at Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Artificial Intelligence Lab led to new types of servo-drive mechanisms that enable people to teach robots directly with a feather touch. The robot simultaneously creates geometrically precise virtual surfaces, funnels, and paths in space that the user selects to slide along. But the technology depends on super-powerful computers and communications, the kind that was available at the AI Lab and almost nowhere else. "That was a real show-stopper; preventing us from addressing mainstream commercial applications", according to Townsend. "So we have been quietly perfecting the technology with support from NASA, DoD, and NSF while we wait for the power of mainstream PCs and the Internet to catch up - and it's close - within a couple years."

Barrett may not yet be in the mainstream, but its impressive customer list includes manufacturing R&D centers worldwide, from Ford, Honda, Yamaha, and MITI, to the USA and Japanese space programs, to robotics and haptic research at top universities. Barrett has also begun sublicensing its technology in fields as varied as haptic sensing, surgery, and physical rehabilitation which are being propelled by the Internet communications revolution and fast, affordable PCs. Refer to feature on BarretHand in this issue.

For information contact: Laurie J. Vanelli, Barrett Technology Inc. Tel: (617) 252-9000; Fax: (617) 252 9021; E-mail: