Top Robotic Technologies of 2018

Top Robotic Technologies of 2018


The editors of Science Robotics have chosen the most exciting robotic technologies for 2018. Here are just some of the big innovations from last year A new video of the world’s most dynamic humanoid show’s Boston Dynamics’ Atlas jumping over a log with one leg, and bounding up increasingly higher wooden boxes without breaking pace. These feats add to walking on challenging terrain, lifting and manipulating objects, and executing a backflip like a gymnast. For this latest parkour-type behavior, the control software uses the arms, legs, and torso to manage energy. Atlas also has a novel visual sensing system to judge each leap. Although these behaviors are not achieved for all trials, the demonstrations serve as an inspiration for what robots can do in the near future. This tailless flapping robot is a perfect example of bioinspired design— design that helps both to develop new technologies and to unveil the secrets of how nature builds living things. Surprisingly, this bot can accurately reproduce the rapid escape maneuvers of fruit flies even with no explicit control of all its rotational axes. And although it is over 50 times the size of a fruit fly and does not mimic the wing morphology or kinematics of any specific natural flyer, it shows that the bot can serve as a physical model to test how flying organisms control flight. The editors consider it a paradigmatic example of “science for robotics and robotics for science” and expect that it will advance the development of all flying robots. This year we saw a self-assembling DNA origami structure that can be moved precisely by externally applied electric fields. That means nanoscale DNA robots can be controlled by a macro-level switch. Molecular robots like these can be used for transport of molecules or nanoparticles over tens of nanometers and open the door to programmable synthesis and assembly of materials from the bottom up. If you need an exoskeleton to help you move, you probably don’t want it to be as heavy as Iron Man’s. A new light-weight, stretchy exosuit offers new ways of integrating fabric design, sensing, robotic control, and actuation to increase the wearer’s strength, balance and endurance. And human-in-the-loop control allows better integration with natural movement. The return of Aibo, first introduced nearly 20 years ago by Sony, brings increasing awareness of the role social robots can play in childhood learning or as companions for the aged. Understanding the perceptions, interactions, and expectations of the people around the robot, and developing robot behaviors and personalities that are context aware are key challenges of social robotics.

15 Replies to “Top Robotic Technologies of 2018”

  1. I often contemplate the implications of this type of technology. What does it means economically? What will it do socially? How pervasive will this technology be? Will there be nano-bots flying about gathering and observing information 24/7? Will lower classes be decimated by emerging technologies that are replacing the need for a common worker? My guess is it will be ubiquitous. Just how computers are becoming such and we will adapt. In less than 30yrs I watched the world go from mechanical VCR's and tube televisions with many homes that had rotary phones and if you had a computer it filled a desk. To go to having a Television, phone, maps, calender, note pad, music, flashlight and the entire cumulative knowledge of the human race and countless other things in the palm of your hand. What will 30yr in the future bring. The world will be unrecognizable.

  2. Soon, it will be commonplace to replace organic with robotic limbs and organs, a time when your artificial heart could beat for a thousand years and your bionic eyes can see infra-red and ultraviolet radiation. Maybe even downloading your consciousness onto silicon substrate and becoming one hive mind with ten billion other minds over 6G networks, a super-mind. I'm getting lost . . . . . 🙂

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