Rapid Robotics’ New Smart Setup Feature Designed to Help Machine Operators Switch Tasks Easily

Rapid Machine Operators can now switch manufacturing tasks in minutes, according to Rapid Robotics.

Rapid Robotics

The Robotic Machine Operator now comes with the Smart Setup feature for fast retasking.
Rapid Robotics' new Smart Setup feature for its Rapid Machine Operator is intended to make it fast and easy for a manufacturing robot to switch between tasks.

DETROIT—Rapid Robotics Inc. said its Rapid Machine Operator is the first industrial robot that can get up and running in a matter of hours. Now, it’s also the first manufacturing robot that can move between jobs in less time than it takes to make a cup of coffee, said the company.

Rapid Robotics said its Smart Setup feature enables anyone to move Rapid Machine Operators (RMOs) onto a new job in as little as 60 seconds using built-in computer vision. No programming or robotics expertise is required.

“Smart Setup gives the Rapid Machine Operator human-like instincts about its surroundings and its assigned task,” said Jordan Kretchmer, CEO of Rapid Robotics. “It’s so flexible, you can almost think of it as a human colleague. You can drop it into any job it’s trained for, at a moment’s notice. There’s never been anything like it on a factory floor.”

Rapid Robotics builds RMO for ease of use

Launched in 2020, the Rapid Machine Operator is the first robot designed to solve America’s chronic machine operator shortage and to help manufacturers regain their competitive advantage, said Rapid Robotics. The RMO comes with all the hardware and software it needs to get started “out of the box,” including a six-axis robotic arm, a computer vision system, and custom grippers.

The system is pre-trained to perform hundreds of common machine-tending and warehouse tasks such as pick and place, parts inspection, gate cutting, and more. Everything is pre-integrated so the RMO can get to work the day it arrives, said the San Francisco-based company.

Each RMO can be “hired” for an OpEx-friendly subscription of $2,100 a month. Rapid Robotics said its RMO is affordable at just $25,000 a year, and the system requires no programming, systems integration, specialized hardware, or robotics skills.

Manufacturers can see returns on investment (ROI) in months, claimed the company. Fast Company magazine recognized the Rapid Machine Operator as one of its “Next Big Things in Technology” for 2021.

Rapid Robotics’ founding team combines robotics and manufacturing expertise with a software-as-a-service (SaaS) business model. Its investors include Tiger Global, Kleiner Perkins, NEA, Greycroft, Bee Partners and 468 Capital.

Smart Setup addresses work stoppages

In addition to easy task-switching, Smart Setup puts an end to work stoppages caused by changes or disruptions to the work environment, said Rapid Robotics. Other robots need to be reset by trained specialists. With Rapid’s Smart Setup, anyone can get an RMO back in action in minutes, noted the company.

The Smart Setup process is push-button simple. With one touch in Rapid Robotics’ tablet-based app, the RMO cameras analyze the workspace. With another, it calculates distances and orientations of parts and surfaces, then updates motion paths to deliver the fastest and most precise way to execute on the given task. With just one more tap, the RMO starts the new job.

“That’s all there is to it. No support tickets. No systems integrators required,” said Rapid Robotics. “Smart Setup handles everything automatically using the Rapid Machine Operator’s built-in AI, running on Rapid’s proprietary edge-computing platform.”

“Smart Setup is shaping up to be an absolute game-changer for busy high-mix environments like ours,” said Tammy Barras, president of Westec Plastics. “We can’t pay systems integrators to come in every time we want a robot working on a different task. We’d lose more money than we'd save.”

“With Smart Setup, we'll be able to do everything ourselves, with practically no downtime,” she added. “That means we’ll spend less, get more work done, and bring in more revenue overall.”

“The Rapid Machine Operator with Smart Setup removes the barriers of automation, dramatically reduces cost of ownership, and makes robotics available to manufacturers of all sizes, including hundreds of thousands of SMB [small and midsize business] facilities in the U.S. alone,” Kretchmer said. “It’s how we’re making manufacturers more profitable, more agile, and more competitive in the global market.”

Existing customers will receive Smart Setup along with Rapid’s regular free updates to the RMO’s software and artificial intelligence. Rapid Robotics is exhibiting at Booth 3049 at the Automate 2022 trade show this week.

Rapid Robotics' Rapid Machine Operator promises to make task changing easier and faster.

About the Author

Eugene Demaitre's avatar
Eugene Demaitre
Eugene Demaitre was editorial director of Robotics 24/7. Prior to joining Peerless Media, he was a senior editor at Robotics Business Review and The Robot Report. Demaitre has also worked for BNA (now part of Bloomberg), Computerworld, and TechTarget. He has participated in numerous robotics-related webinars, podcasts, and events worldwide.
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Rapid Robotics

The Robotic Machine Operator now comes with the Smart Setup feature for fast retasking.

Robot Technologies