ROBOTICS NEWS: What's Trending in September 2020

Welcome to the twelfth 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 September. Let's see what caught our attention this month!

Walmart, Through the Air

Let's start off with some big news in the retail world: Walmart is attempting to join the delivery-by-drone movement. According to MashableEngadget, and in Futurism, the giant is testing deliveries by drone - with COVID test kits at the heart of some air delivery trials.

It's a massive leap for one of the biggest names in American retail; it also could be a significant breakthrough in the struggle to effectively test people for the virus. Is the mixture of robotic innovation, big-box store organization, and improvements in testing availability the "secret sauce" blend to help defeat the virus? It's something to keep an eye on.

Scalpel, Please

Talk about something that would shake up the plot of Grey's Anatomy completely. Per articles in FuturismEngadgetThe Robot Report, and Robohub, Harvard and Sony teamed up to create an itsy-bitsy surgical robot. Be sure to check this remarkable little robot out - it weighs about as much as a penny and is only the size of a tennis ball. Thus surgery robot draws inspiration from the ancient art of paper folding called "origami."

It'll still be some time before this tiny little bot heads into the operating room, but it shows great promise. Would you feel comfortable with the prospect of a robot doing your surgery - or would you still prefer the touch and skill of a human surgeon? As robotic surgery becomes more and more prevalent, it's something that everyone will have to think about.

Gundam Style (The Sequel)

We spoke about the gigantic Gundam robot last month - and we're happy to present even more news about our favorite giant robot! According to, the New York Post, and Futurism, the giant robot can now go ahead and take a knee. This will be perfect for its eventual career as the world's largest backup quarterback.

In all seriousness, though - what could you see these giant robots used for (aside from the obvious Pacific Rim jokes)?


An intriguing and controversial story from - big surprise - the brain of Elon Musk. From articles in Popular Mechanics and Business Insider, the Tesla founder is testing his "Neuralink" brain implant on pigs. The controversy? PETA is upset about the use of pigs for the testing, per an article in Futurism.

What are your thoughts, readers? Are the benefits of this "brain implant" worth the testing on animals? Is the controversy overblown? Is this implant something you'd be interested in? There are so many different avenues worth exploring in this story.

What's New in the Industry?

How about some quick hits from around the industry: 

  • Get ready for Amazon Prime packages to come even quicker - according to Futurism and Engadget, the FAA gave permission for the company to deliver shipments via drone.
  • Our favorite guilty pleasure Winter Olympics sport is getting a robotic upgrade! Check out this curling robot in TechCrunch and Wired.
  • One of our favorite robots - Spot from Boston Dynamics - is now on sale in Europe and Canada, per TechCrunch and The Robot Report.

What's to Come?

Of course, there is a lot of other news out there - but these are the stories that caught our eyes this month. The theme for September 2020? How about "convenience." We've all seen how important to-the-door deliveries are - especially in a time of pandemic. Now, just this month, we've seen two of the true behemoths in the retail industry - Walmart and Amazon - making significant progress in deliveries via drone. It's incredible to think about those fleets of delivery vans on the road slowly getting replaced by drones buzzing about. How could this impact the gig economy? Local traffic? Rules, regulations, and safety concerns? It's certainly something significant to think about for the future.

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

Picture Credit: Korea University / Wyss Institute at Harvard University / USAF/SGT. CORY PAYNE
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