The robot revolution is just beginning

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When industrial robots were first introduced in the early 1960s initially on automobile assembly lines computers were still in their infancy, so the robots were designed to perform only the most rigidly predetermined set of repetitive movements. But according to Rodney Brooks, who last year left a tenured position as MIT s Panasonic Professor of Robotics to focus on his latest company, that may not be true for much longer. Brooks s lips are sealed, as The Economist put it last week, about what exactly he and Heartland Robotics are up to in a converted warehouse in South Boston s Innovation District. But venture capitalists have already gambled $32 million on the premise that whatever it is they produce, it s going to set a whole new direction in the field. Brooks, now the chairman and chief technology officer of Heartland Robotics, spoke at MIT on April 20, addressing a recently formed student entrepreneurship group called do.it@MIT.

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