Versatile Manipulation: Baxter Robot with MoveIt! Used to Teach Robotics Fundamentals at Columbia University

From factory assembly lines to warehouses and living rooms, robots are always expanding their role in our lives. Both hardware and software are critical for this transformation, so students taking the Intro to Robotics class in Columbia University’s Mechanical Engineering Dept. are using a Baxter Robot (Rethink Robotics Inc.) along with MoveIt! to learn robotics fundamentals. In the Fall 2014 semester, students used this combination to implement motion planning and trajectory generation algorithms, taking advantage of MoveIt!’s Inverse Kinematics, collision detection, and visualization capabilities. The integration of MoveIt! with Baxter’s SDK proved seamless, greatly simplifying project development. In future courses, projects will expand to include areas such as sensor-based manipulation, tele-operation, and control, all of them critical as robots are stepping further into everyday human environments.

Matei Ciocarlie

Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Columbia University

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