As the New Year gets into full swing, it’s time to look back on the advances in robotic technology throughout the previous year. Countless teams and researchers spent hundreds of hours in 2018 creating new designs and developing innovative tech for the masses. Compiled by Guang-Zhong Yang, an editor at Science Robotics, here are the top 10 most notable robotic developments.
10. Robot Atlas
Created by Boston Dynamics, the robot utilizes perfect balance to accomplish full body mobile manipulation. Atlas can simultaneously perform tasks such as 3D printing, stereo vision, range sensing, and object manipulation. Most recently, the robot made strides by completing a backflip.
9. Da Vinci
The Da Vinci Surgical System brings innovation into the operating room. The technology provides a 3D HD view inside a patient’s body so that surgeons can complete more accurate surgeries. The system is capable of performing various operations through minimal incisions with an ergonomically designed console, patient-side cart, and instruments that bend and rotate beyond the limitations of the human hand.
Researchers have developed a material that can serve as a stand-in for muscles, replacing hard and stiff materials. One of the new designs for the material involved variations on Peano-HASEL, a transparent, self-healing, and self-sensing material that is easily controllable.
Proposed by Eliot Hawkes, the robot was designed out of soft material and can navigate just by growing. The design was mirrored after how living things such as vines, fungus, or neurons grow.
6. 3D Printed Liquid Elastic
These shape-shifting elastics are perfect for soft robotics and are projected to bring in new fabrication schemes and give robots new abilities.
Highlighted on the list, the nanoscale robots can self-assemble. Based on origami concepts, the robots were developed using strands of DNA and can transport nanoparticles.
4. Flying Robot
The Delfly Nimble is a flying robot from the Micro Air Vehicle Laboratory at Delft University of Technology. Weighing in at 28 g, the robot can fly for more than 5 minutes on a fully charged battery. The design is similar to that of an insect, but with bio-inspired wing-based control.
3. Wearable Robots
Things like exoskeleton’s made of soft yet pliable materials are gaining traction. Used by workers loading cargo or those on their feet for long hours, these robotic suits can make life easier for tons of workers.
2. Robotic Arms
Adding to the innovation for workers, Universal Robotics launched a series of collaborative robotic arms that can automate and streamline repetitive industrial processes.
AIBO is an adorable robot dog created by Sony. After its first release more than 2 decades ago, AIBO was discontinued. But now, the fun little bot has returned with even more abilities for human companions.
Clearly, 2018 was a pretty good year for robotic innovation. And who knows what this year holds for new technology. Whatever the case, industry heavy-hitters are vying to outdo one another, which could mean great products for consumers.