Lightweight robotic assistant Panda
Andrew Myers for TIME

A Revolutionary Robotic Arm


We’re living in the middle of a robotics revolution, but the most capable machines are generally available only to wealthy corporations. The German-based robotics firm Franka Emika is changing that with the Panda, an $11,000 (roughly) easy-to-program robotic arm designed for small businesses. Able to move in seven axes and designed with a smart sense of “touch,” the Panda can help conduct science experiments, build circuit boards or pretest equipment. Two Panda arms can even work together to build a third. And while the Panda isn’t designed for personal use, something similar could eventually offer a helping hand at home, chopping food in the kitchen or assisting the elderly with difficult tasks. “We believe that robots will have a similar success story as personal computers,” says Franka Emika’s CEO and co-founder, Simon Haddadin. —Alejandro de la Garza

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