ROBOTICS NEWS: What’s Trending in December 2020

Welcome to the fifteenth installment in our monthly series, What's Trending in Robotics News! We cover all the breaking news, hot issues, trending stories, and cool stuff that's happening - or has happened - in the robotics industry.

There were plenty of amazing things happening in the robotics industry throughout December. Let's see what caught our attention last month!

Dance Dance Robot-lution

Robots are here - and they can cut a rug. Earning loads of coverage in The Verge, Business Insider, Futurism, Digital Trends, and Engadget, Boston Dynamics went viral yet again with its army of dancin' bots. Go ahead and check out the video; it puts anything from "Dirty Dancing" to shame.

No place does it better than Boston Dynamics when it comes to making robots accessible to the masses. What other videos (or what other famous dance moves) should these robots recreate next? Will they be dancing to the Bee Gees' "Saturday Night Fever" in 2021? We can't wait to see what they do next.

The Big Robot Deal

Speaking of Boston Dynamics, the company has a new owner. Covered in Engadget, The Verge, Tech Crunch, IEEE Spectrum, and The Robot Report, the industry leader is now under the umbrella of Japanese automaker Hyundai, sold in a staggering $1.1 billion deal.

It's an amazing run for Boston Dynamics, from a small spinoff from MIT right up through its current, massive deal with the auto giant. It's always worth wondering what might happen to these companies when they get taken over by another, larger entity; we can only hope that the spirit of innovation and creativity continues to flourish in this new setup. What do you think is in the future for Boston Dynamics?

Taking a Charge

Here's a very cool robotic innovation. Covered in Yahoo News, Futurism, The Verge, and Tech Crunch, VW's prototype robot offers mobile charging services for electric vehicles. What a fascinating invention, and a needed one, as well; this could be very helpful for parking garages, office parks, and other places without dedicated EV charging stations. Do you think this might spur even wider acceptance of electric cars?

A "Soft" Touch

The "soft robot" movement is a fascinating one, and it took a giant leap forward in December with the rollout of a new creation from Northwestern University. Covered by Interesting Engineering, Engadget, Yahoo Finance, and Tech Crunch, the new robot (made up mostly of water and inspired by sea creatures) gets powered by light, can walk, transport cargo, and even break-dance. Be sure to read up on the creation of the robot; it's amazing stuff. Do you think this "soft robot" technology will stick around - and will it scale up to even greater heights?

Special Delivery

Some big news with delivery bots this month! First, and earning coverage in Digital Trends, Gizmodo, The Verge, and Engadget, the "Nuro" delivery pod is active in California - and can charge customers right when it arrives. Second, people got their first glimpse at the very cool-looking self-driving Zoox "robotaxi" from Amazon, covered in Mashable, The Verge, and Gizmodo.

Amazing stuff, isn't it? With more and more innovations arriving every month in the delivery sector, it can't be too long before we're all used to picking up packages from robots and hailing robotic taxis with strangers (once the pandemic ends, of course).

What's New in the Industry?

How about some quick hits from around the industry: 

  • How about some end-of-the-year holiday wishes from robots? Check out these charming videos here and here!

What's to Come?

Of course, there is a lot of other news out there - but these are the stories that caught our eyes this month. The theme for December 2020? It's hard for it to be anything but the emergence of Boston Dynamics as not only a huge player in the robotics industry but also as a big, bold-face name splashed across every business page and website in the world. From going viral with its "dancing robots" to the massive deal that gave Hyundai a controlling interest in the company, Boston Dynamics continues to make the most news in the industry - which makes it (by default) its biggest name. Do you see this dominance continuing, or can you see a challenger step up to take the place of Boston Dynamics in the future? It's something to watch out for.

On behalf of all of us here at RobotShop, we wish you the happiest New Year! Be sure to check out our two new blog posts - touching on the top robots of the past decade and the biggest trending stories of the year!

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.

Picture Credit: Boston Dynamics / Volkswagen / ETH Zurich
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