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German automation supplier Hahn Group buys Rethink Robotics technology

Hahn has acquired all of the patents and trademarks from Boston-based Rethink, the collaborative robot maker that closed its doors in early October.


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October 26, 2018 by Canadian Plastics

Rethink Robotics’ Baxter (right) and Sawyer cobots.

German automation supplier Hahn Group GmbH has acquired all of the patents and trademarks of recently defunct collaborative robot maker Rethink Robotics Inc., raising the possibility that at least one of Rethink’s cobot models might continue.

The terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Hahn has acquired all of the patents and trademarks from Boston-based Rethink, including the Intera 5 software platform. In a statement, Hahn said it will further develop Rethink’s technology, “combining it with German engineering and know-how of industrial applications. [We] intend to make the [Intera] software platform available to suitable partners through licensing or other arrangements.”

Hahn’s statement alluded to the fact that the deal will focus on the single-armed Sawyer robots: “We are very pleased that we could convince the owners of Rethink Robotics to agree to the sale of its robotic technology around the Sawyer cobot, as well as the Intera5 software,” the statement said. There was no mention of continuing to produce Baxter, a two-armed robot that Rethink introduced to the market first.

The Hahn Group consists of a network of specialised companies for industrial automation and robot systems. Rethink Robotics will form the third pillar of the group’s robotic division, Hahn said, alongside its integration business and rental business.

Founded in 2008, Rethink was known for both the Baxter and Sawyer cobots, which used animated faces to communicate with their co-workers, and were designed for easy programmability and to work safely alongside humans. The cobots had long, articulated arms designed to make them perform highly repetitive rote tasks, such as parts assembly or packaging products for shipment. The company closed its doors on Oct. 3. As reported at the time in the Boston Globe, Rethink was in financial trouble and had been exploring a deal to sell itself to another firm, but the acquisition fell through at the last minute.