10 most popular stories of January 2021

The Robot Report

What a month it was for robotics. Whether it was behind-the-scenes looks at how Boston Dynamics’ robots learned to dance, Bossa Nova Robotics Europe shutting down or Kyle Vogt, co-founder, president & CTO of Cruise saying the LiDAR industry is headed for consolidation, there was no shortage of robotics stories to cover in January 2021.

Here are the Top 10 most popular robotics stories on The Robot Report in January 2021. Subscribe to The Robot Report‘s newsletter to stay updated on the robotics stories you need to know about.

10. How to get ROS up & running on Spot

In September 2020, Clearpath Robotics released a ROS package for Boston Dynamics’ Spot quadruped. The idea was to allow robotics researchers to leverage ROS capabilities out-of-the-box, as well as open-source libraries, tools and the greater ROS community to accelerate their robotics development. For robotics developers who want to install ROS on Spot, Clearpath Robotics compiled user documentation that has everything you need to know. Read Story

9. Softbank partners with Iris Ohyama to retool robotics play

Softbank Robotics will jointly develop commercial robots with Japanese electronics maker Iris Ohyama. The joint venture will be called Iris Robotics, and it forecast sales of $965 million by 2025. Iris Ohyama will own a 51% stake in the joint venture, while Softbank Robotics will own the other 49%. As for initial products, the companies highlighted two products that are evolutions of existing products. Read Story

DreamVu PAL 3D vision system

8. DreamVu launches PAL, PAL Mini 360-degree 3D vision systems

DreamVu, a Philadelphia startup founded in 2017, announced its PAL and PAL Mini 3D vision systems are now available. Both PAL and PAL Mini provide high-resolution vision, high-accuracy depth, and color 3D point-clouds that can be used in a variety of systems, including autonomous mobile robots, cobots, disinfection robots, and domestic vacuum cleaning robots where low-latency, low-power, and high-reliability are critical. Read Story


7. Teradyne’s acquisition strategy & the future of cobots

Greg Smith, president of Teradyne Industrial Automation, takes us inside the company’s acquisition strategy and looks ahead to the future of collaborative robotics. He also offered a unique perspective on mobile manipulation, saying on The Robot Report Podcast that a return on investment can be a major challenge for customers. Read Story

Cruise Origin Japan

6. Cruise autonomous vehicles heading to Japan

Cruise will be sending its first self-driving test vehicles to Japan in 2021. Honda said this is part of its autonomous vehicle mobility service (MaaS) in Japan. It’s aiming to launch the MaaS business using the Cruise Origin, but that development is further down the road. This will be the first time Cruise deploys its vehicles internationally. Read Story

5. New directions for an old robotics toolbox

For tens of thousands of students globally, over the last two decades, a part of their education involved an open-source software toolkit known as the Robotics Toolbox for MATLAB. Peter Corke writes that the original Robotics Toolbox for MATLAB will be end-of-life by January 2022, but that the old toolboxes will remain on GitHub. Read Story

Bossa Nova Robotics Europe shutdown robotics stories

4. Bossa Nova shuts down European robotics division

Bossa Nova Robotics, the Mountain View, Calif.-based developer of inventory control robots, recently shut down its European business unit. Headquartered in Sheffield, U.K., Bossa Nova Robotics Europe had its funding cut off from the parent company. Bossa Nova Robotics Europe is in the Administration phase, the U.K.’s equivalent to Chapter 11. Read Story

industrial robots robotics stories

3. The state of industrial robotics: challenges & opportunities

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently released a study called “The State of Industrial Robotics: Emerging Technologies, Challenges, and Key Research Directions” that described challenges of adopting and using industrial robotics. It also made recommendations about how to move the industry forward. Read Story

lidar robotics stories

2. Cruise’s Vogt weighs in on LiDAR SPACs

In the past few months, five LiDAR companies have already gone or will soon go public via a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). There are pros and cons of going public via SPAC, and a key figure in the autonomous vehicle industry doesn’t think the trend will end well for LiDAR makers. Kyle Vogt, co-founder, president & CTO at Cruise, posted a thread on Twitter about the “interesting thing happening in the LIDAR industry right now.” Read Story

Boston Dynamics robots dancing robotics stories

1. How Boston Dynamics’ robots learned to dance

Boston Dynamics detailed how its Atlas and Spot robots learned to dance, including its use of choreographers and model predictive control. Adam Savage and Tested also released a video that dives into the Choreographer software. The Choreographer software is similar to video editing or animation software. It works by dragging and tweaking Spot’s pre-programmed movements onto a timeline. Read Story

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