The year of living autonomously

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even in In the era of the virtual phenomenon, it takes me days to recover from the whirlwind of CES. Keeping up with the year’s big hardware news is a little less than ideal, but perhaps the changing nature of the big tech event will bring adjustments to the news cycle as well. For that reason, I’m apparently a little relieved that it’s been a slow week on the robotics news front — even if that means it’s going to be a smaller newsletter.

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However, with the show almost a week away, it brings some additional perspective on emerging trends. From where I sit, here’s where the world of robotics can take important things from CES 2022.

Automotive will continue to be a major driver. What began as an interest in manufacturing evolved into the world of autonomous vehicles – and beyond. Hyundai had the biggest headline-grabbing news of all time, though announcements from the carmaker were a little everywhere. The company’s PND (Plug and Drive Module) continues to broaden concepts around autonomous mobility, which may eventually delve into the world of mass transit.


Its concepts for the Boston Dynamics spot system, on the other hand, run the gamut from practical to shoot robots into space, so Earthlings can interact with the metaverse on the actual surface of Mars. That sounds fine, but there’s still a lot of practical work to be done in the meantime, and I go back and forth about how useful these big conceptual pitches are – especially in an era where we’re really going to have a lot of robots with us. Looking at work.

image credit: LG

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By and large, I think consumer electronics firms were less reliant on robotics as a sort of shorthand way of demonstrating that they’re thinking about the future. big warning for is lg, which announced UL certification for its CLOI Servbot. The difference here is that LG actually takes robotics more seriously than the others. That means, in part, focusing on near-term practical applications, rather than videos showing how 2050 homes might look with their robots.

We touched on last week UV disinfecting robots (including the one from LG) as a handy and practical near-term use for indoor-navigating robots. This is something that people have been worried about for a few years in this pandemic and ultimately it matters a lot. Servbot, as the name implies, wants to take on systems like Bayer Robotics – in fact, a second set of arms for servers. Like Bayer, hotels and stores as well as restaurants are on the list of customers.

The system is capable of carrying around 66 pounds for up to 11 hours on a single charge. LG’s Jeffrey Weiland says, “As the first commercial service robot to receive UL certification for safe operation in a consumer environment, the CLOi Servbot’s semi-autonomous operations provide an effective means for businesses to better serve, while frees up employees to focus on building customer relationships and relationships that encourage repeat visits.” There is no fixed date, but the system will roll out to select customers before being introduced nationwide.

image credit: Naïo

Agtech is one of the major categories to look for here. John Deere made the biggest waves with his fully autonomous tractor. Now’s Vineyard Robot got a little bit of love, too. Ultimately, CES certainly isn’t an agricultural show, but it’s pretty clear that we’re only scratching the surface here in terms of how these robots can help out on the farm.

More BabyStep for Home Robotics. Audiences have been waiting for the next Roomba for several years now, but thus far trying to find the right balance between pricing and functionality for a home setting has been largely fruitless. Compare Amazon’s Astro Robot with a Labrador Retriever. The first is in the category of solutions currently looking for problems, while the second is addressing the genuine desire of those who need help to live on their own. It’s not exactly a mainstream product, and the market, size and pricing will likely keep it there. But eldercare is a very real concern, and Robotics has few immediately available solutions.

Speaking of Assisted Living, Cornell Has a Cool Project Earned a grant of $1.5 million From the National Science Foundation’s National Robotics Initiative. Assistant Professor Tapomukh Bhattacharjee says he is ready to take his team’s research to the next level, adding, “I started to interact a lot with stakeholders – people with mobility limitations, caregivers who help them. and occupational therapists – and I felt like robotics could really make a difference in their lives, when it’s ready to be deployed.”

As always, some news from the last-mile delivery side of things. Magna announced this week that it has purchased IP and assets from Boston-based Optimus Ride, along with 120 of its employees.

Here’s Magna President John O’Hara on the matter:

Increasing our engineering bench strength to understand hardware and software helps us navigate our path in the rapidly growing ADAS market. As autonomy continues to progress, we saw an opportunity to bring in additional expertise to support current programs as well as future customer needs. We are delighted to welcome the Optimus Ride employees to the Magna family.

image credit: nuros

Meanwhile, the extremely well-funded Nuro showed off its new road-ready ‘bot. The system doubles the cargo of its predecessor, has a number of new safety sensors and features and has its own external airbag, which is positioned upon contact with a person or object. No word yet on when it actually plans to deploy the system in the street.

Shenzhen-based Hai Robotics, which in September announced a $200 million raise, has Broken ground at a “demo center” In the SF Bay Area – specifically my hometown of Fremont. This area will primarily be dedicated to showcasing the company’s warehouse automation, as it seeks to further expand its reach in the US market.

image credit: Bryce Durbin / Nerdshala

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