ROBOTICS NEWS: The Top News in the Robotics Field for 2019

2019 has been a remarkable year for the robotics industry. There were spectacular new gadgets and technologies, news events that made our jaws drop and made us stop and think, great leaps forward for industry stalwarts and up-and-comers - and the turbulent times of an advanced sector striding into the mainstream.

Top News of 2019 According to RobotShop

Throughout all of it, RobotShop has been there - giving you a first-hand look at all the remarkable achievements in the industry throughout 2019. It's been our pleasure to take this journey with you.

So, to end the year, we've put together this list of the top news for 2019, based upon feedback and social media engagement from community members, the RobotShop team, and our followers. Here are the stories that received the most attention and reactions in 2019, month-by-month:

JANUARY: Bird is the Word

The year kicked off with news about drones that take off without a runway and use bird-like legs to take flight, which earned prominent display in Futurism. Yet another example of how portable - and versatile - drones are becoming.

The other big story in January? Hyundai released the plans for their Elevate, an electric vehicle with four robotic legs that allow the car to walk or "climb" over rough terrain. This also got big eyeballs for Futurism. It's a remarkable bit of machinery, showing just how far the concept of the electric car has gone into the mainstream - even heading into the off-roading realm!

FEBRUARY: The Cutting Edge

Robot hockey? Robot figure skating?!? It may not be that far away. A robot made from 3D-printed modular parts taught itself to skate, which got coverage in the BBC. Another incredible advancement in the world of Robotics. As we are a Montreal-based company, we will proudly accept the ice skating robot on the Canadiens.

Things also got small in February. A drone powered by electrohydrodynamic thrust (using a high-strength electric field to generate a plasma of ionized air) became the smallest flying robot ever. The incredible advancement earned coverage in IEEE Spectrum. In January, we saw the portability and versatility of drones - now, we see them scaling even further down. What is their next frontier?

MARCH: "Somehow the Vital Connection is Made"

5G connection is coming soon around the world - and SoftBank's partnership with NASA will help it get there. The team-up resulted in a massive solar-powered drone that delivers 5G connectivity anywhere in the world, as covered by Futurism. Have you encountered 5G connectivity yet? Are you in a remote place where this service may help you? Lots to think about with 5G.

Another space story from February, in Engadget - a pressurized "moon rover" by Toyota will transport astronauts over 10,000 kilometers. Two things here - 1) How cool would it be to see new footage of astronauts on the moon and 2) How much would Matt Damon's character in "The Martian" have loved that vehicle?

Other news from March: From Futurism - the USAF has a new artificial intelligence program called "Skyborg," which does not remind us at all of another pop culture AI system, nope, not in any way. Oh, and from The Robot Report - the Handle robot from Boston Dynamics is hard at work!

APRIL: Robot People (Putting Out the Fire)

How about this for news from April - as covered in Jalopnik, there's now a fire-fighting robot called Colossus (also an X-Man character, FYI) that is doing some incredible stuff, including helping to put out the fire in Notre-Dame. Yet another example of robotics moving into critical services.

There's also a cool story from Futurism - with a pack of those ubiquitous Boston Dynamics robot dogs pulling a truck over a parking lot. It seems like those Dynamic doggos are doing something remarkable every month.

MAY: "License and Registration, Please."

The biggest story from May? From Futurism - a police robot that helps prevent accidents that occur when police pull over drivers. Cool development, with robotics helping to avoid one of these all-too-frequent encounters.

That's not all the cool stuff from May. BoingBoing covered an MIT robot that could solve a Rubik's Cube in an incredible 0.38 seconds. Watch the video - it's captivating.

Also - take a look at this peek what may be the next generation of air travel, from Futurism. The Lillium jet is an "air taxi" that seats five and flies 300 km/h, with a range of 300 kilometers. How long before one of these picks you up?

JUNE: "You Find That Man!"

As profiled in IEEE Spectrum - there's a robot ostrich (named Cassie Cal) that zooms around the campus on hover shoes. We'd talk more about it, but if that sentence didn't grab your attention, nothing will.

Another story from June (sadly, without any robot ostriches) that's just as amazing: from Futurism, there's now a mind-controlled robot arm that doesn't require any brain implants to work. Yet another remarkable achievement in the world of prosthetics. Would it have changed "The Fugitive"?

JULY: Whoa-ah oh, I'm on Fire

This is a strange and captivating story from July in IEEE Spectrum: "deep reinforcement" learning is teaching robots made from branches how to move. They really can make robots out of anything these days. Kind of the Forky of robotics.

We have two other elements from July for the rest of the news - fire and water (straight Captain Planet). First, IEEE Spectrum covered a robotic fish, and The Verge covered a "Throwflame" robot that can shoot a stream of fire for 100 seconds. Talk about a fish fry!

AUGUST: Eight is Enough

Creeped out by aquatic life? Well, how about a robotic octopus? As covered in the Metro, this "bio-inspired octopus robot" is a remarkable creature that will not give us nightmares at all. No sir, not at all.

SEPTEMBER: Bird is the Word (Again)

Our avian friends seem to be the inspiration for a lot of robotics. Check out BoingBoing's coverage of a robotic bird inspired by a herring gull. Elsewhere in September, we saw an enormous "humanoid" robot too tall to leave its warehouse, as covered in the Guinness World Records site; this behemoth gets inspiration from famous robots from Japanese animation. Would you get intimidated if you saw that creature?

Finally, in September, the Boston Dynamics robots were at it again. This time, the quadruped "Spot" came up for sale, as covered by TechCrunch.

OCTOBER: Saving Lives

Two remarkable stories dominated the robotics world in October. The first, from NBC News, covered the shaky deployment of robots for police functions; the second, in Futurism, detailed how a heat-seeking drone helped to find a missing child. Remarkable parallels showing the peril and promise of robotics.

In lighter news from The Verge, an AI-powered robot can now solve a Rubik's cube one-handed. Send it back to the 1980s!

NOVEMBER: One Small Step For Robots, Mate

The first British rover is going to the moon, as covered in CNBC. Talk about a TRUE Brexit, huh?

There were more problems with police robots, as protesters in Hong Kong took down a police drone with laser pointers (gaining notice in Futurism). However - there's a positive notice, as Boston Dynamics' Spot robot proved its worth as a "mobile remote observation device." Check it out on Engadget.


No one wants the crappy job of picking up your dog's droppings. Well, this robot does, as covered in Unilad. Talk about a dirty job! If any robot would ever rebel, it might be this one.

Finally, let's end the year with a real-life "Iron Man" story from CNET - as this amazing powered exoskeleton can make you 20 times stronger. It might not be enough to battle Thanos, however.

What's to Come in 2020

Of course, that was only just a fraction of all the robotics news that was out there in 2019. The big themes for the year? Here's what we noticed:

  • DRONES GET SMALLER AND SMARTER. Drones are already a big part of our lives; as technology improves, they're only going to become more important. What do you expect to see them do next year?
  • ROBOTICS' PROMINENCE FIRST RESPONDER PROFESSIONS INCREASES. We're seeing the trials - and triumphs - of robotics in vital, life-saving professions - like police work and firefighting. What's the next frontier for robotics in these industries?
  • ROBOTICS TO IMPROVE HUMANITY. With everything from robots that can pick up dog waste to powered exoskeletons to boost strength, the benefits that robots can bring to humanity seem endless. With every month, the world sees something spectacular - and game-changing - within robotics. What does this future look like for all of us?

As we can see, robotics are becoming more and more integrated into our lives every year. Next year should be no different. We're looking forward to sharing the newest developments with you in our News section! Did you know that's where RobotShop is curating the "latest and greatest" info almost every day? We're not just celebrating a world full of robots or trying to generate interest - we're keeping you up-to-date with the latest news from the industry! Be sure to bookmark it and follow us on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter to stay up to date on the latest news in the field. With RobotShop, you'll never miss a story.

One more thing, readers - if you have anything that we should add-in for the next edition, let us know! What caught your attention in the robotics world throughout the year? Comment below, and we might feature it in our next issue!

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