ROBOTICS NEWS: What's Trending in June 2020

Welcome to the tenth 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.

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

HAMR-JR: The Cockroach Microbot Arrives

Robots keep getting smaller and smaller. As covered in ZDNetHarvard, and Mashable, the Harvard HAMR-JR robot is now the size of a penny - even smaller than the original robot. For such a small robot, it's both fast and powerful - capable of carrying (relatively) heavy loads and zipping around like an insect.

Another incredible story about just how minuscule the robot world is going. How small do you think we could go? Is a Fantastic Voyage scenario in play someday? Big things come in tiny packages, it appears.

Give it a Robotic Hand

Hellboy has his right hand of doom - and now robots are getting something with the same sort of punching power. There's a new wearable robot arm that can go ahead and smash through walls; it's something you'd expect out of the latest Marvel movie. Most of the practical applications seem to be for the construction industry - using power tools, painting walls, etc. This development earned coverage on Futurism and in Popular Mechanics.

Could you see laborers wearing this sort of technology for their work? Also - what type of impact will this have on future robot boxing matches? Boxing could use a shot in the arm (quite literally). This seems like it could be a good idea.

Spot, Good Boy

A significant development from the world of Boston Dynamics - Spot the Robot Dog is now available for purchase by the public! It's the definition of an expensive purebred, though. Detailed in WiredThe Robot Report, and Popular Mechanics, Spot the Robot Dog will set you back a cool $74,500.

That's quite a lot to shell out for a robot pet for the household! What do you think - who will shell out the money for these helpful robotic pooches? If that's too much, what is the acceptable price range you'd set for actually purchasing one - and what type of range would it get down to before Spot (and other robots of its ilk) go into wider usage?

Slothbot: Take it Slow

Finally, a story that Kristen Bell will love. Profiled in Engadgetthe BBCTechXplore, and Futurity, the "slothbot" veeeerrrryyyy sloooowwwwwlyyyyy monitors the animal kingdom. The logic? The less the robot moves, the more it will blend into the environment, allowing it to better capture the needed data.

An interesting concept; in a world where everything is going faster and faster, it's intriguing to see something intentionally designed to go sloowwwwwww.

What's New in the Industry?

How about some quick hits from around the industry?

  • Robots, it appears, now come in edible fashion. Don't look for them in your local grocery anytime soon, though. Coverage in New Scientist and Futurism.
  • The excellent summer pastime of drawing in the sand? Well, robots can no do it too; featured news from Hackaday and Arduino.
  • Finally - a robot is headed to a silver screen in a starring role! The robot "Erica" is starring in a new sci-fi film, according to news from Engadget. Maybe a robot Oscar acceptance speech in our future?

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 interesting takeaway we picked up this month? How about the crossover between the animal kingdom and the robot world? We've seen "cockroach robots," Spot the Robot Dog, and a "slothbot," just this month. It brings to mind some themes of the classic Blade Runner -  and the sourced Philip K. Dick book - in which natural animals become exceedingly rare and replaced by robots. As more and more species disappear around the world, will we see even more of a merger between the animal and robot kingdoms? Something to keep an eye on.

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 June? 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: Kaushik Jayaram/Harvard SEAS / Université de Sherbrooke / Georgia Tech
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