ROBOTICS NEWS: What's Trending in December 2019

Welcome to the fifth installment in our monthly series, What's Trending in Robotics News! We will cover all the breaking news, hot issues, trending stories, and cool stuff that is happening - or has happened - in the robotics industry. Let's see what caught our attention this month.


For our first story this month, we're heading to outer space! The International Space Station has a new robot onboard called CIMON-2, standing for "Crew Interactive Mobile CompaniON." It's described as a "flying brain" specifically designed to help out (and encourage) the astronauts of the International Space Station. CIMON got coverage in Digital Trends, TechCrunch, CNN, and Futurism.

It's hard not to think of another robot with a friendly name for a space mission when you see this story, isn't it? However, it seems as though CIMON won't be as nefarious as HAL; in fact, one of the intriguing uses CIMON may have is serving as a friendly companion for astronauts on longer and longer space missions (we'll think of TARS and CASE from Interstellar here). Would you be comfortable with one of these robot buddies on a long journey - or would you get a little wary of it?

Buggin' Out

There's a massive development in the field of "soft robotics." Actually, it's quite a small one - a "soft robot" called the DEANsect that can zip around and survive getting whacked by a flyswatter. This big (or tiny) creation earned coverage in TechCrunch, Metro, and Futurism. These types of micro-robots have been a staple of science fiction for years; now, it seems as though they're reaching the mainstream.

What sort of functions could you see these miniature flying machines doing? Would you be comfortable with these "flies" buzzing around? Most importantly, have we figured out the newest angle for a remake of "The Fly"?

Into the Weeds

Robots and weed! Wait, it's not what you think. Quite the opposite, actually. A British start-up has developed a line of robots (named Tom, Dick, and Harry) that serve as farmer's assistants. These robots monitor, feed, and seed crops, along with doing the critical weeding that helps keep a farm going. "Tom" monitors the farm, "Dick" does the weeding, and "Harry" does the punching and planting. This story got coverage in ZDNet, Digital Trends, and the Genetic Literacy Project.


Robotics have worked their way into a lot of fields over the years, but this is one of the most intriguing - and consequential - ones we can remember. We've talked a lot about how robots are reclaiming traditional manual labor jobs; what's more classic than working the fields of your farm? Will there come a time when farmers don't ever get their hands dirty? It's an interesting thing to think about.

Special Delivery

The world of driverless delivery is coming to America's most profitable retailer. Walmart announced a pilot "autonomous vehicle delivery" program with Nuro vehicles in early December, with the first deliveries rolling out to customers in Houston. This new program got coverage in Digital Trends, Engadget, TheVerge, and TechCrunch. Again, we see another example of robotics removing humans from the equation. How long will it be before these autonomous vehicles make even more jobs obsolete?

What's New in the Industry

How about some quick hits from around the industry?

  • Essential for all you pet owners out there: there's now a pooper-scooper robot out there. This robot that does the dirty job earned coverage in Unilad and Ladbible.
  • For all you Tony Stark fans, here's a cool story: a powered exoskeleton that can make you about 20 times stronger. Take a look at the coverage of this in The Robot Report and
  • How'd you like to tip a robot server someday? It's happening in Japan, where a new cafe gets staffed by the famed "Pepper" robots. This development earned coverage on Digital Trends and Interesting Engineering.
  • How's this for a twist on the "dirty water" hot dog - here's a robot that serves weiners, as covered in Singularity Hub, SyFy, and Futurism.
  • Finally - here's an update on the Toyota humanoid robot. Apparently it mixes a mean drink, as covered in the Daily Mail, Irish News, and CBS News.

What's to Come?

Of course, that's only just a fraction of all the robotics news out there - but these are intriguing stories. One fascinating theme we picked up this week? How about the importance of robots to humans in jobs, both traditional (farming, delivery) and brand-new (traveling into outer space)? It shows just how wide-spanning robotics' impact is on our lives, from the ancient to the modern. It really will be all-encompassing.

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 December? Comment below, and we might feature it in our next issue!

Be sure to follow us on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter to stay up to date on the latest news in the field.

LikedLike this to see more

Spread the word

Flag this post

Thanks for helping to keep our community civil!

Notify staff privately
It's Spam
This post is an advertisement, or vandalism. It is not useful or relevant to the current topic.

You flagged this as spam. Undo flag.Flag Post