ROBOTICS NEWS: What's Trending in November 2019

Welcome to the fourth 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.

Cambridge Un-Common: MIT Makes News in the Robotics Community

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology does a lot more than produce very intelligent janitors. That prestigious school on the banks of the Charles River is also a hub for robotics research. Last month was a massive news cycle for MIT when it comes to robotics. The university's robot cubes are now making structures of their own - think Minecraft or something from the Green Lantern's ring. This got coverage in Futurism, TechXplore, Engadget, and Extremetech.

Elsewhere, the MIT "Little Hermes" robot is on the cutting edge of "teleoperation" capability - aping a human operator's actions to move quicker and more decisively. It got coverage in the IEEE Spectrum, SciTech Daily, Technology Review, and TechCrunch.

Oh, and we're not done with MIT. Another robot developed by the university can "grow," and resembles a plant in its ability to move into tight places - an example of "biomimicry," or copying some of the helpful aspects of nature. It earned coverage in Engadget, IEEE Spectrum, and The Verge. Finally, MIT's herd of robot cheetahs enjoyed "frolicking" in the autumn leaves, as covered by the IEEE Spectrum, WSB TV, and

Amazing stuff coming out of Boston. If anyone's looking for the cutting edge of robotics research in the United States, it's hard to put "The Hub" at the top of the list.

Shot Out of a Cannon

New technology may be on the verge of solving one of the big headaches when it comes to drone usage. Researchers are now testing a "cannon" to launch certain drones, cutting out some of the logistical nightmares that conventional launches have. This development secured coverage in Engadget, IEEE Spectrum, and The Verge.

Another interesting development, especially as more and more industries begin to integrate drone usage into their work. Any time a development can make things easier when it comes to drone usage, it's a welcome one.

It's All About the Shoes

Rare that we hear about a robotic integration into an industry that does not work out, but that's what happened with Adidas. As seen in The Verge, The Robot Report, and Metro, the company is ending its robotic shoe production in Europe. Again, it's not often that you hear about robotic production running into roadblocks - but it does happen on occasion. This might just be a bump in the road for Adidas - or it might be a sign that some things are just more efficient when made by hand.

What's New in the Industry

How about some quick hits from around the industry?

  • The next time you go to the circus, you might be able to see the next best thing to bears riding around on tricycles - how about robots juggling? The juggling robot called "Cassie Cal" earned attention from Digital Trends and the IEEE Spectrum this month. Go ahead - you hear that circus song in your head now, right?
  • Speaking of news coming out of Boston - the Massachusetts state police bomb squad is now using robot dogs from Boston Dynamics. This earned coverage in Engadget, TechCrunch, and WBUR.

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 prevalence of Boston as a "hub" for robot development here in the United States? It's not enough they have to keep winning sports titles; it also has the potential to be one of the epicenters for the world's robotics scene. Where else might spring up as the new hot development center for robotics in the U.S.?

Another thing we noticed: massive advancements that are making robots even more human-like. From improved flexibility to new strides in robotic balance, robots are becoming even more like their creators in terms of physical ability. How long before we see them in professional sports leagues? Maybe robot boxing is in our future, after all.

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 November? 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: 
Adidas/João Ramos/Biomimetics MIT YouTube/Caltech & NASA JPL
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