Top 10 robotics stories of December 2020

The Robot Report

What a month it was for robotics. Whether it was Boston Dynamics being acquired by Hyundai for nearly $1 billion or Jürgen von Hollen announcing he is stepping down after four-plus years serving as president of Universal Robots, there was no shortage of robotics stories to cover in December.

Here are the Top 10 most popular robotics stories on The Robot Report in December 2020. Subscribe to The Robot Report‘s newsletter to stay updated on the robotics stories you need to know about.

Sex, Race, and Robots author Ayanna Howard describes how to identify, fight bias

10. Sex, Race, and Robots author Ayanna Howard discusses how to identify, fight bias

Headlines regularly proclaim that robots are coming for people’s jobs or are “creepy,” but both robotics developers and the general public are increasingly aware of the many ways in which the technology can boost productivity and safety. However, the need to understand how robots and artificial intelligence can inherit negative human biases is still urgent, according to roboticist Ayanna Howard. Read Full Story


9. How the U.S. election could affect the future of autonomous driving

Over the past decade, the United States of America has paved the way for an autonomous future. In addition to steps already taken by the U.S. Department of Transportation, President-elect Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan signals a strong future for the autonomous vehicle industry, but it is important to not let trade conflicts with China impede future success. Read Full Story

8. Best week ever for robotaxis?

Autonomous vehicles, particularly robotaxis, had arguably their best week ever in early December. Waymo opened up its robotaxi service to the general public in the Chandler, Ariz. area. And across the world other leading companies are starting to be test robotaxis on public roads without human safety drivers behind the wheel, including AutoX, Baidu and Cruise. Read Full Story


7. How 2 former Navy SEALs built robot subs for ocean exploration

Jud Kauffman and Joe Wolfel, co-founders of Terradepth, joined The Robot Report Podcast to discuss the development of their autonomous submarines for deep ocean exploration. Terradepth’s long-term goal is to build the Google Earth of the ocean. They discuss the challenges and opportunities of Terradepth’s mission and how their Naval experience is playing a vital role. Read Full Story

Boston Dynamics dancing robotics stories

6. Boston Dynamics talks about its big year and acquisition by Hyundai

Michael Patrick Perry, vice president for business development at Boston Dynamics, returned to The Robot Report Podcast to discuss the Hyundai acquisition, the commercialization of Spot, and updates about Atlas and Handle. The podcast also examines the prospects of Boston Dynamics, which is on its third owner in seven years. Read Full Story

Digital twins, AR/VR bring simulation benefits to industrial automation users, says Siemens

5. Digital twins, AR/VR bring simulation benefits to industrial automation

Among the challenges that COVID-19 posed to manufacturers in 2020 was the need to plan for and maintain optimal production levels without sacrificing employee safety. In this Q&A, Vincent Guo from Siemens Digital Industries Software discusses how digital twins, augmented reality, and virtual reality can help production environments with productivity and social distancing. Read Full Story

COVID-19 robotics stories

4. 4 robotics applications accelerated by COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has dominated 2020 and is a common theme in many robotics stories. Early in the year, it aggravated a manufacturing slowdown that was the result of both expected economic cycles and trade tensions between China and the U.S. At the same time, COVID-19 has accelerated demand for robotics in supply chain and healthcare applications. Robotics suppliers switched from citing labor shortages to the need for social distancing as a rationale for adopting automation. Read Full Story

Jurgen von Hollen universal robots robotics stories

3. Universal Robots sells 50k cobots; von Hollen to step down

RBR50 company Universal Robots, the leading developer of collaborative robot arms, recently sold its 50,000th cobot. No other company has sold close to that number of units. Universal Robots sold its 25,000th cobot in 2018, doubling its sales in the past two-plus years. Despite the success, Jürgen von Hollen announced he was stepping down after four-plus years serving as president of UR. He was recently named CEO of Ultimaker, a Dutch 3D printer manufacturer. Read Full Story

robotics stories

2. Top 10 transactions in robotics in 2020

The Robot Report tracked 400-plus transactions worth a total of about $26 billion in 2020 to date, compared with 384 worth about $45.8 billion in 2019. The pandemic can be blamed for the decline. There were also 60 robotics mergers and acquisitions in 2020, compared with 86 in 2019. The total number of investments was closer, with 366 fundings worth $16 billion as of late November, compared with 384 in the prior year. Read Full Story

Hyundai Boston Dynamics robotics stories

1. Hyundai to acquire Boston Dynamics

The Robot Report confirmed Hyundai’s acquisition of Boston Dynamics before word was officially released. The $880 million deal gives Hyundai an 80% controlling stake in Boston Dynamics, while previous owner Softbank will retain 20% via an affiliate. It’s still unclear what the future holds for this relationship, but Hyundai’s in-house manufacturing expertise and existing customer base could help scale Spot and yet-to-be-released robots such as Atlas and Handle. Read Full Story

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