ROBOTICS NEWS: What's Trending in June 2021

Welcome to the 21st 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 June. Let's see what caught our attention this month in robotics!

Go Fetch!

Good news for everyone that's ever wanted a robot dog. According to IEEE Spectrum, Gizmodo, and The Verge, Unitree's robot dog for consumers is now (relatively) affordable at only $2,700 USD. It appears this price drop could break down the final, cost-contingent barrier that has barred families everywhere from owning their own faithful robotic companion around the house. Is this something you would consider, now that it's below $3,000? If so, how much would it have to be for a purchase?

Eva's Expressions

Here's an intriguing development: covered in The Next Web, Inceptive Mind, CTV News, New Atlas, and Interesting Engineering. "Eva," the robot, can now respond to human facial expressions and mimic a person's facial expression just by watching. This seems to be yet another leap in the "lifelike" quality of robots (and one of the most important developments, too). What do you think - would you enjoy the company of this robot, or would it just be unnerving?

Robots, Unearthed

Covered in The Engineer, New Atlas, Yahoo, and Digital Trends, scientists are making progress on new "soft " robots that can tunnel and burrow into subterranean areas. With the new "Dune" film coming out, it's hard not to compare this to those famous "sandworms" from the novel (and "Tremors," of course)! What kind of interesting things might these robots do (or find) underneath our feet?

You'll "Flip" For It!

Just ahead of the Olympics, robots are warming up for their gymnastics experience. Covered in IEEE Spectrum, Gizmodo, Futurism, and Mashable, "Ollie" the robot is a back-flipping, balancing marvel. How could you see this type of balancing robot used in your industries? Oh, and the VERY big question: do you think that this flipping robot could ever possibly best Simone Biles in a gymnastics match?

A Boston Dynamics Update

Of course, we can't go a month without some news from Boston Dynamics! As covered in The Verge, Digital Trends, and Engadget, the company celebrated its acquisition with a new video of seven dancing Spot robots. How do you think this news will impact this groundbreaking company's future?

What's New in the Industry?

How about some quick hits from around the industry: 

  • Nailed it! As covered in Unilad and CNN, robots could soon revolutionize the nail industry.
  • Fascinating development: did you know that transparent and reflective objects tend to confuse robots? As covered in Engadget and PC Mag, Toyota is teaching its robots to deal with the confusion.
  • "Wombot Robot" is a fun phrase to say, isn't it? Check out the burrowing "wombot" robot from Yahoo, New Atlas, and The Engineer.

What's to Come?

There is a lot of news out there—but these are the stories that caught our eyes this month.If we could give one big theme for the month, it would be "underground." This month, we see two big developments about robots exploring the ground beneath our feet: the "Wombot Robot" and the "snake" robot that can explore underground. It's incredible to think that after space, the sky, the land, and the sea, the ground beneath our feet might be the "final frontier" for robots, but it looks like technology is on the verge of solving that problem as well. What more environments are out there for robotics to conquer?

One more thing, readers—if you have anything that we should add 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!

Picture Credit: Unitree Robotics / Creative Machines Lab/Columbia Engineering / Boston Dynamics

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