Top 10 News in the Robotics Field - 2018

In case you were worried you missed everything that happened in the robotics field during 2018, don't be! With our selection of the top 10 news, you should get up to speed real fast! 

Top Subjects

2018 has been an incredible year for the Robotics field. To resume 365 days in a one-pager post is a tough task, but some subjects shared and discussed during the year were not surprising. A lot of articles had abstracts related or mainly about AI, Drones, Autonomous Robots, DARPA researches, and the list is getting long now...

Making a Difference as a Key Influencer

According to Essentials in its recent report, RobotShop was considered to be one of the key influencers to follow on social media in 2018! Out of 120 influencers, RobotShop was listed in the top 20! Our trusted sources were generally Digital Trends, The Verge, IEEE Spectrum, as well as several other reliable websites.

Did you know you could also contribute to the news feed?

The articles we found for you were picked by our curation team, which is mostly composed of community members, RobotShop technicians, engineers, and robotics enthusiasts. If you see something interesting, don't hesitate to share it with us in the #robotics-news channel in the Shoutbox (Chat)! It is a great collaborative way to keep everybody in the loop.

Therefore, our selection is based on the stories from 2018 that generated the most reactions or that were the most shared.

So, now...

Here are the top 10 news from 2018 according to RobotShop 

# 10 - Insect-sized robot

Slightly heavier than a toothpick, the first wireless insect-size robot takes flight

CNBC, By Barbara Booth, Nov. 2018 


RoboFly, a robo-insect powered by an invisible laser beam.  RoboFly, a robo-insect powered by an invisible laser beam.

Until now, robotic flying insects were hard-wired to an external power source because the electronics needed to power and control their wings were much too heavy. The engineers say these robo-insects are cheap to produce and can slip into tight spaces, enabling them to handle tasks the large aerial drones can’t.

# 9 - Robot construction tasks

This Japanese robot contractor can install drywall

The Verge, By Dami Lee, Oct. 2018

The HRP-5P robot can carry out simple construction tasks. The HRP-5P robot can carry out simple construction tasks.

You can watch in the video above how the HRP-5P robot steps up to a piece of drywall, uses hooks to maneuver it into its rotating hands, and nails it into the wall. First spotted by TechCrunch, the robot works about as fast as a teen doing Habitat for Humanity, but still, it gets the job done.

# 8 - Atlas parkour

Boston Dynamics' Atlas Robot Shows Off Parkour Skills

IEEE Spectrum, By Erico Guizzo, Oct. 2018

Boston Dynamics' robot Atlas uses its whole body to leap higher than ever. Boston Dynamics' robot Atlas uses its whole body to leap higher than ever.

The remarkable evolution of Atlas, Boston Dynamics’ most agile robot, continues. In a video posted today, Atlas is seen jumping over a log and leaping up steps like a parkour runner.

# 7 - Sun-chasing robot for plants

This sun-chasing robot looks after the plant on its head

The Verge, By James Vincent, Jul. 2018

The robot-plant hybrid, built by Vincross founder Sun Tianqi. The robot-plant hybrid, built by Vincross founder Sun Tianqi.

Evolution hasn’t got there yet, but it turns out, humans can help. Chinese roboticist and entrepreneur Sun Tianqi has made it happen: modding a six-legged toy robot made by his company Vincross to carry a potted plant on its back. The resulting plant-robot hybrid looks like a leafy crab or a robot Bulbasaur. It moves toward the sunshine when needed, and it retreats to shade when it’s had enough. 

# 6 - Bina social robot   

This robot co-taught a course at West Point

Axios, By Khorri Atkinson, Oct. 2018

Meet Bina48, one of the worlds most advanced social robot.  Meet Bina48, one of the worlds most advanced social robot. 

Why it matters: The experiment at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point sought to determine if AI can "support a liberal education model," says William Barry, a West Point professor who has been using Bina48 to teach for years. 

# 5 - Robot finger for phones

This robotic finger attachment for your smartphone will gently caress your hand

The Verge, By Dami Lee, Oct. 2018

MobiLimb is a robotic finger attachment that can tap the user’s hand in response to phone notifications.  MobiLimb is a robotic finger attachment that can tap the user’s hand in response to phone notifications.  

MobiLimb is a robotic finger attachment that plugs in through a smartphone’s Micro USB port, moves using five servo motors, and is powered by an Arduino microcontroller. It can tap the user’s hand in response to phone notifications, be used as a joystick controller, or, with the addition of a little fuzzy sheath accessory, it can turn into a cat tail.

# 4 - Autonomous car concept to sleep in

Volvo’s 360c concept car is a fully autonomous bedroom on wheels

The Verge, By Vlad Savov, Sept. 2018

With Volvo's new autonomous car concept, you can sleep or work even when you're stuck in traffic.  With Volvo's new autonomous car concept, you can sleep or work even when you're stuck in traffic.  

The Volvo 360c is, like most concepts of our time, all-electric, fully autonomous, and covered by a big sweeping glass dome. What distinguishes it, though, is Volvo’s vision of how it fits into the broader scheme of city infrastructure, short-haul flights, working commutes, and environmental concerns.

# 3 - NASA robots on Mars  

How NASA Will Use Robots to Create Rocket Fuel From Martian Soil

IEEE Spectrum, By Kurt W. Leucht, Oct. 2018

Engineers are building a prototype of a robotic factory that will create water, oxygen, and fuel on the surface of Mars.Engineers are building a prototype of a robotic factory that will create water, oxygen, and fuel on the surface of Mars.

This robot factory isn’t science fiction: It’s being developed jointly by multiple teams across NASA. One of them is the Swamp Works Lab at NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center, in Florida, where I am a team lead. Officially, it’s known as an in situ resource utilization (ISRU) system, but we like to call it a dust-to-thrust factory, because it turns simple dust into rocket fuel. This technology will one day allow humans to live and work on Mars—and return to Earth to tell the story.

# 2 - Autonomous robotic bees

Walmart just filed a patent for robot bees amid ongoing battle with Amazon

Big Think, By Stephen Johnson, March 2018

This is a buzzing patent! Autonomous robotic bees

The patent outlines how tiny autonomous “pollination drones” would use sensors to locate crops, transport pollen, and verify which crops have been successfully pollinated. It would be a significantly more efficient way to pollinate crops than crop dusting, the patent suggests.

And now the top news of 2018 is... 


# 1 - A cafe with an all-robot staff controlled by paralyzed people 

Cafe in Japan Hires Paralyzed People to Control Robot Servers

NextShark, By Carl Samson, Nov. 2018

Robot-staff restaurant  A cafe with an all-robot staff controlled by paralyzed people

Ten people with conditions like ALS and other spinal cord injuries are currently employed at Dawn, according to Sankei. From home, they operate the OriHime-D, a 120-centimeter (4-foot) robot that communicates, moves around and handles objects. Behind the OriHime-D is Ory, a startup that develops robotics for disabled people.

Closing Books on 2018

This list says it all. We can retain from all these articles a rather positive idea, whether it is by improving our daily lives, the fate of planets or the future: robotics has a conclusive impact on our existence as well as on our environment.

Apart from this selection, we know there may be a few important events that have been forgotten in this article, so here are some honorable mentions:

  • Robot Boris on Russian television was actually... not a robot. (read more on Futurism)
  • A fully autonomous farm where software and robotics fill the place of human agricultural workers. (read more on MIT Technology Review)
  • This Bugatti model made with LEGO Technic pieces took 13,500 hours to build! (read more on TechCrunch)

And of course, many more that you can read from our news feed if you want!

What to expect in the Robotics field during 2019?

More than two weeks in 2019 and, for now, we'll surely be watching closely a few companies as mentioned by The Robot Report in its most recent article: Boston Dynamics, UBTech, Amazon, etc. Apart from technologies presented at the 2019 CES event, here are some trends we've seen so far: Want a robotic butler or friend at home? Your grandma's feeling lonely these days? Are you really thinking you are going to lose your job to a robot?

There are a few innovations that we cannot miss in 2019, but all that, for now, still needs to be determined with 365 days of top curated news on the robotics field.

Want to stay informed on the robotics field?

Did you know that RobotShop is curating news almost every day in its News section? The idea is not just to celebrate a world full of robots or even to just entice your interest: it is to keep up to date with the latest robotics news! Never miss any news in the Robotics field! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter or even on Pinterest!

Seriously, one click or two and hop! With RobotShop, you are sure to never miss anything interesting in 2019!

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