Robot with two arms from RE2

Jorgen Pedersen has lofty goals for his Lawrenceville company, RE2. “We want to be the next Pittsburgh-born robotics power,” he says of the firm he started as a one-man shop in 2001 that today boasts 30 employees. And he wants to do it “while saving and improving lives.”

Pedersen and his fellow roboticists could be well on their way with the recently revealed Highly Dexterous Manipulation System, or HDMS, product line. It includes dual robotic manipulator arms and a moveable humanoid torso that can be easily mounted onto a mobile platform to conduct a number of tasks, including defense and emergency response–situations that might prove dangerous to humans.

“HDMS is able to produce near human-like actions,” he says of his new two-armed robot. “It acts as an extension of the human controlling it.”

The company also closed on a $2.25 million round in August to expand robotic product offerings and look into expanding into the healthcare and agricultural markets.

HDMS is the only robot that has two arms, can mimic human actions and, most importantly, moves, he notes. “Most robots like this are bolted down, HDMS is on a (driveable) platform. A quick release allows it to move easily from one platform to another. “It can pick up a key, hold the lock, turn the key and enter.”

Right now, Pedersen believes, HDMS will most likely be used by law enforcement branches, such as bomb squads. RE2 sold its first HDMS to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for “hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

But Pedersen views HDMS as the Model T of robots. Like the affordable car, the the goal is to make HDMS within range of many. “We are hopeful for the system to be tens of thousands in a few decades,”he says.

“Most robots are custom.That, obviously, drives the price through the roof. We designed HDMS using readily available parts.”

HDMS can be of value in many places, most importantly, the healthcare industry, he says. “The most common injury for nurses occurs when they’re trying to roll over patients. HDMS would let the nurse be present to give the patient the human touch, but the robot would do the lifting, to prevent injury.”

Pedersen, who holds a bachelors and masters degree from Carnegie Mellon University, said being able to create his robots in Pittsburgh is very fulfilling.

“I’m completely committed to Pittsburgh,” he said. “We have the universities that produce the talented engineers I need for my company. We have the healthcare system that would be perfect for this product. “And, this is an entrepreneur-friendly city. It’s a great place to live and work.”

Rick Monti

R.A. Monti is a freelance writer and future lawyer. A graduate of Penn State, he is a student at the Duquesne School of Law. When he's not not writing or reading, you can find him watching a game while...