What a month it was for robotics. Whether it was the Mars Perseverance Rover landing on the Red Planet or the release of Spot Arm for Boston Dynamics’ quadruped, there was no shortage of robotics stories to cover in February 2021.
Here are the Top 10 most popular robotics stories on The Robot Report in February. Subscribe to The Robot Report‘s newsletter to stay updated on the robotics stories you need to know about.
10. How shadows can help robots understand human touch
Cornell University researchers created a low-cost method for soft robots to detect a range of physical interactions, from pats to punches to hugs, without relying on touch at all. Instead, a USB camera located inside the robot captures the shadow movements of hand gestures on the robot’s skin and classifies them with machine-learning software. Read Story
9. Universal Robots’ ActiNav handles challenging bin-picking task
Facing significant challenges due to labor shortages, Allied Moulded chose Universal Robots’ ActiNav system to automate an important bin-picking application. The deployment enabled Allied Moulded to reduce overtime expenses, move existing workers to more ergonomic tasks and improve consistency in the production process. Read Story
8. Waymo begins limited robotaxi tests in San Francisco
Waymo began limited testing in San Francisco, marking its first expansion of its robotaxi service outside of Arizona. Of course, the Alphabet subsidiary is proceeding cautiously and is using employee volunteers to gather feedback about the technology’s performance. Employees in San Francisco will use the Waymo One app to hail rides. Read Story
7. Watch the first ever video of a NASA rover landing on Mars
NASA released incredible footage of the Mars Perseverance Rover‘s final descent and landing on Mars. This is the first ever video of a NASA rover landing on Mars. You can watch the footage in the video above. A microphone on the rover also has provided the first audio recording of sounds from Mars. Watch Video
6. SLAMcore extends ROS integration in software update
SLAMcore’s latest software release will expose several additional functionalities that enable deeper and more wide-ranging integration with robotic systems based on ROS. Key among these is the capability to fuse data from wheel odometry sensors into the SLAMcore algorithms via ROS. Read Story
5. Q&A: Ingenuity Mars Helicopter chief engineer Bob Balaram
Bob Balaram, the chief engineer of the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, was recently featured on NASA’s Small Steps, Giant Leaps podcast. The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, which rode along with the Mars Perseverance Rover, will be the first aircraft to attempt controlled flight on another planet and is a marvel of engineering. He described what it took to develop the helicopter and what to expect during the experimental flights. Read Story
4. Locus Robotics raises $150M Series E at $1B valuation
Locus Robotics, an RBR50 company and developer of autonomous mobile robots, closed a $150 million Series E round of funding today. With a new $1 billion valuation, Locus becomes a unicorn company. There are several autonomous vehicle unicorns, but not too many on the robotics side of things. UBTech Robotics is another unicorn valued at about $5 billion. Read Story
3. Cruise, Waymo lead way in Calif. autonomous vehicle testing
Waymo (29,944.69) and Cruise (28,520.34) are the leaders in the clubhouse when it comes to the number of miles driven between disengagements. China’s AutoX (20,367) is a distant third. This is the sixth straight year in which Waymo increased its number of miles driven between disengagements. Read Story
2. ABB launches next generation GoFa, SWIFTI cobots
ABB is expanding its collaborative robot portfolio. The 2020 RBR50 company introduced its GoFa and SWIFTI cobots that offer higher payloads and speeds to complement its YuMi cobots. The GoFa and SWIFTI cobots are available now. ABB said the cobots will accelerate its expansion in high-growth segments, including electronics, healthcare, consumer goods, logistics and food and beverage. Read Story
1. Robot arm opens new doors for Spot
Boston Dynamics released several updates to its Spot product line to enhance the quadruped’s ability to autonomously monitor job sites. None of these products is more important than Spot Arm. With Spot Arm, Spot is no longer just a data collection robot, but rather a highly-skilled mobile manipulator that can interact with its environment. Read Story
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