ROBOTICS NEWS: What's Trending in October 2019

Welcome to the third 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.

A Bot of Many Colors: An AI System Solves a Rubik's Cube

Chances are you've tried to figure out a Rubik's Cube once or twice (and maybe you've encountered the same frustrations The Simpsons once did). Well, how about this for a feat: researchers at the University of California (Irvine) have invented an AI-powered robot hand that can solve a Rubik's Cube.

This colorful development earned coverage in Straits Times, CNET, Techxplore, The Verge, and other outlets. This is another illustration of the remarkable advancements made by Artificial Intelligence - and a rather relatable one for anyone who grew up playing with these toys.

Rise and Walk: Paralyzed Man Uses an Exoskeleton to Walk

In a miraculous development, a 28-year-old French man - paralyzed from his shoulders down after a fall - used a brain-controlled exoskeleton developed at the University of Grenoble to move his limbs. The story is well worth a read, as the details of how the suit works and its development are extraordinary.

Check it out at, CBS News, and The Independent. The repercussions of this type of innovation are remarkable. How long will it be before this type of exoskeleton becomes commonplace - and what's the next stage for the technology?

There Will Be Trouble: Robocop Fail!

For many of us, the term "Robocop" conjures up visions of a metal-clad hero taking on bad guys and other robots. Well, now that robotics have worked their way into law enforcement, we see that ... well, it's not always perfect. In Los Angeles, a woman tried to flag down one of the patrolling "Knightscope" police robots in a park to call for help - and the robot just plain ignored her.

The SNAFU made news in NBC, Futurism, Gizmodo, and Metro. It's interesting to think about this problem in the context of Robocop. It's a sci-fi movie for sure, but one with intriguing themes exploring corporate irresponsibility, consumerism, and the militarism/integration of robots into the police force. How far will we let the element of humanity go away from law enforcement?

Drones Deliver

Some very cool developments for the drone world. First (covered in Futurism) is a "technology at its finest story" from Minnesota, as a heat-seeking drone helped to locate a missing boy.

Second, UPS and CVS are teaming up for drone deliveries to homes. This was a big story covered in Wired, Engadget, Gizmodo, and Digital Trends. There are certainly plenty of problems and issues that come along with the use of drones, but it's nice to focus on some of the positives for a little bit - whether it's finding missing kids or helping to deliver vital prescriptions.

What's New in the Industry?

How about some quick hits around the industry?

  • Not exactly the old corner-store pizza place. A Seattle startup has developed a pizza-making robot that makes 300 pies in an hour. This story earned a nice "slice" of coverage in Geekwire and the New York Post.
  • You have to love any story with a headline that reads "Robotic Spiders Explore Moon." Check it out on CNBC and
  • Boston Dynamics made plenty of waves in the industry recently, too! First, how about an update on the Boston Dynamics robot dog? The helpful robo-pooch called "Spots" has hit the market! This news came out in late September, but it got plenty of news in October as well. Read about it in Maxim and Tech Crunch.
  • In another cool Boston Dynamics story - well, they have a robot that does parkour! Their humanoid robot called "Atlas" can go through a full routine in the sport, and is ready for any gymnastics competition or maybe to run away from James Bond. This earned coverage in Digital Trends.

What's to Come?

Of course, that's only just a fraction of all the robotics news out there - but these are intriguing stories. Very big-picture, big-impact stories this month - robotics advancing in law enforcement, helping paralyzed people walk again, saving lives, delivering needed products (and making pizza, too). These things are going to matter in our lives sooner rather than later. It's fascinating stuff, and we'll be here next month - and every month - after that to deliver you the news you need to hear and see.

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 October? Comment below, and we might feature it in our next issue!

Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to stay up to date on the latest news in the field.

Picture credit: 
OpenAI/Knightscope/The Lancet Neurology
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