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If you’ve been keeping tabs on the robotics industry in 2023, you won’t be surprised to see that six out of our top 10 articles this past year were about humanoid robots. From a slew of companies announcing their humanoids and Boston Dynamics showing off Atlas’ latest capabilities to looks at how the technology enabling such robots has advanced, it has been an impossible subject to avoid.
In between all of the humanoid news of 2023, you’ll find stories about major acquisitions and new product releases.
Here are the top 10 most popular stories on The Robot Report this year. Subscribe to The Robot Report Newsletter or listen to The Robot Report Podcast to stay updated on the robotics stories you need to know about.
10. Apptronik unveils Apollo humanoid robot
Apptronik launched its long-awaited Apollo humanoid robot in 2023. The company joins a growing list of robotics companies in the race to commercialize a humanoid. Until now, Apptronik has kept a low profile, working primarily on research and development projects with exoskeletons and bipedal locomotion for the U.S. government, including the Department of Defense. Read more.
9. German Bionic debuts Apogee+ powered exoskeleton
German Bionic has unveiled the Apogee+, a powered exoskeleton for the North American healthcare market. Apogee+ is intended merge cutting-edge robotics with research-backed, data-driven insights to better support caregivers, said the company. Read more.
8. Evolving humanoid robotic dexterity from toddler to adult
Something has been forgotten in the race to build general-purpose humanoid robots, wrote Contactile‘s Heba Khamis. Roboticists are forgetting to answer this basic question: “What does it mean to be general purpose?” For better or worse, this probably means replicating what people can do physically in their day-to-day lives and could extend to some semi-skilled labor. Read more.
7. Shopify suffers huge loss on 6 River Systems sale
When Shopify sold 6 River Systems, many assumed that Ocado paid pennies on the dollar to acquire the autonomous mobile robot (AMR) maker. Now we know exactly how good of a deal Ocado got. In its 2023 midyear financial report, Ocado said it paid just $12.7 million to acquire 6 River Systems. By comparison, Shopify paid $450 million to acquire 6 River Systems in September 2019. Read more.
6. Editor’s picks: Best robots of CES 2023
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is the largest event for consumer product launches in the world. Mike Oitzman had the opportunity to attend CES for the first time this year and said it was an overwhelming experience. With more than 3,200 vendors, there is so much to see that it would be impossible for one person to see and experience everything. Read more.
5. Watch Boston Dynamics’ Atlas humanoid work at a ‘construction site’
Boston Dynamics never disappoints when it releases a video showing new capabilities for its robots.
In 2023, the company released a video, “Atlas Gets a Grip,” in which the humanoid performed a slew of new moves at a simulated construction site. Read more.
4. Unitree teases new H1 humanoid robot
Unitree announced on social media that it is developing a humanoid, building on its experience in quadruped robotics. The company is a leading developer of legged robots and launched the second generation of its Go2 quadruped. Unitree has developed and commercialized the necessary mechanics and drive systems with its quadruped line, potentially giving it a leg up on its humanoid competitors. Read more.
3. Watch Boston Dynamics’ Stretch unload a DHL trailer
Boston Dynamics is officially putting its Stretch robot into its customers’ hands. Its first commercial application is with DHL Supply Chain. Boston Dynamics has been collaborating with that company since 2018, when it began developing the trailer-unloading system. Read more.
2. Figure 01 humanoid takes first public steps
Figure unveiled its Figure 01 humanoid robot and demonstrated dynamic bipedal walking publicly for the first time. The company has grown to 60 employees over the last year and includes engineers across AI, controls, embedded software, electrical, mechanical, actuator design, battery, integration and testing. The company announced its $70 million round in May 2023 and developed the robot in a little over 12 months. Read more.
1. Humanoids ready to take first steps
The age of humanoids is just around the corner, noted Oitzman in The Robot Report‘s most popular article of 2023. Humanoids have long been relegated to research labs, but the goalposts have begun to shift.
Oitzman looked at some of the companies now creating such robots to perform various real-world tasks. Humanoids could someday operate in environments designed for humans and work alongside us. Read more.