ROBOTICS NEWS: What's Trending in May 2020

Welcome to the ninth 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 May. Let's see what caught our attention this month!

Boston Dynamics Innovations

The geniuses at Boston Dynamics are at it again. First - and as covered on CNBC, ZDNet, Popular Mechanics, Digital Trends, and the BBC - Boston Dynamics' Spot is now a "social distancing" robot dog making sure people remain safely apart during the coronavirus.

Elsewhere, they've found yet another amazing way to deploy Spot's talents - helping to herd sheep in New Zealand. This development earned coverage in CNET, Futurism, and Engadget.

Another month of innovation for Boston Dynamics with Spot. It's incredible to see how many different things Spot is used for (even in the medical realm). What could you see them using Spot for next? Do you ever see "Spot" getting to a point where it might be an essential household item for one reason or another - like an Alexa or a Netflix subscription? Could this be the first "must-have" robot for the home?

Speed Demons: A "Cheetah-Like" Robot

Think of all those nature documentaries you've seen about cheetahs on the plains of the Serengeti. Okay, now imagine a robot running just like they do. Well, that's now reality, as covered in Interesting Engineering and TechCrunch. The latest evolutionary update of this "soft robot" mimics the running motion of a cheetah, providing it tremendous speed. Go ahead and click on the links for a dive into its remarkable "soft robot" technology, providing the robot the flexibility for this speed (it's quite remarkable).

This development could be key for future search-and-rescue robots - where speed is essential. What other uses (aside from perhaps racing Usain Bolt) could you see these speedy 'bots getting used for?

The Tunnel Kings: Introducing a "Worm-Like" Robot for Tunnels

We're going underground with this story. As covered in The Robot Report and in Digital Trends, GE is building a "worm robot" to dig tunnels for military purposes. An interesting development - we've seen the struggle (in human labor) to dig tunnels covered in everything from tales of prison escape to World War I movies. Could there be a civilian use for this eventually? Maybe a way to dig new subway lines?

Game On! A Basketball Robot Arrives

Well, we might not have any NBA (yet), but robotics are coming off the bench to get some playing time. As covered in Arduino, The Verge, Hackaday, and Business Insider, there's now a robotic backboard that moves to "make" every shot - potentially turning any chucker into Steph Curry, Reggie Miller, or Ray Allen. Maybe there's some hope for all of our NBA dreams yet - with a little assist from the robotics industry.

Order Up! A "Robotic Barista" Helps Fight COVID-19

Robots are doing their part to help stop the spread of COVID-19. In Korea, robotic baristas are helping out traditional coffeehouses - making coffee and serving drinks in order to help avoid human-to-human contact. This intriguing story earned coverage in Futurism, Engadget, and the Business Insider.

Another amazing story when it comes to robots helping in the COVID struggle; how long before these types of futuristic interactions start to pop up in other countries?

What's New in the Industry?

How about some quick hits from around the industry?

  • First, other stories in the robot fight against COVID-19! As covered in CNN, Rwanda is using five smart anti-epidemic robots to battle the disease - taking temperatures, screening patients, and much more. Engadget covers the use of drones to deliver needed supplies during the pandemic, helping to prevent human-to-human spread of the disease.
  • There's also a cool story covered in TechCrunch and Digital Trends: a robotic exosuit that helps with the movement of stroke survivors.

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? Aside from the continued innovations coming out of Boston Dynamics (it's always cool to see what they come up with), it's wonderful to see that the industry continues to create fascinating new uses for robotics, even as the power of the industry continues to help battle the COVID crisis.

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 May? 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: REUTERS/Edgar Su; REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji ; Stuff Made Here/YouTube
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