Monthly Robotics News – December 2021

The most intriguing robotics news from December 2021, brought to you by the team at RoboDK.

As 2022 draws closer it’s that time of year when experts reflect on the previous 12 months and make predictions for the year ahead. More below (after a look at December’s news) but before all that…

All of us at RoboDK would like to wish our
customers, partners, and friends around the world
a prosperous and automation-filled 2022!

Industrial Robot Brief

There were some exciting numbers in the International Federation of Robotics’ eagerly-anticipated annual World Robot Report, which was released in December. Key headlines from the document:

  • robot density worldwide in 2020 (126 robots per 10,000 employees) is almost a doubling of 2015’s numbers (66 per 10,000)
  • robot density in China has more than quadrupled from 49 in 2015 to 246 in 2020
  • Japan delivers 45% of the global robot supply

Download the 2021 World Robot Report here.

Meanwhile, in other industrial robot news, Bangalore-based Pace Robotics raised an undisclosed seed investment from Pidilite Industries Ltd. for an equity stake of 19.5%; a Bloomberg opinion piece suggested that while industrial robots are a boon, they are also creating a ‘crisis of masculinity’; researchers at Nara Institute of Science and Technology unveiled a soft jig that may improve the performance of general-purpose assembly robots; UK-based researchers showcased their research into improving nuclear waste-handling through human-robot collaboration; READY Robotics announced a partnership with Futura Automation; and ABB unveiled two new OmniCore robot controller models.

Two New Bio-Inspired Gripper Designs

Researchers at Stanford revealed ‘farmHand‘ a gripper that incorporates gecko-inspired materials and can handle delicate food items such as fruit as well as lift heavy objects.

Meanwhile, a team from China’s Shanghai Jiao Tong University revealed a new soft gripper design based on the ability of tentacles and elephant trunks to grasp delicate objects safely. The grippers are based on ‘pneu-nets’ (pneumatically actuated elastomeric structures), which consist of a series of connected internal chambers that can be inflated pneumatically, blowing them up like a balloon.

The new grip has both tenatacle and trunk-like properties, which makes for flexible, 3D gripping capabilities. Credit: Applied Physics Reviews

Meet DroneDog

Using Boston Dynamics’ Spot as a mobile platform, Asylon Robotics has developed ‘DroneDog’ an autonomous mobile perimeter security robot that can seamlessly integrate with Asylon’s existing portfolio of aerial drone security systems. Asylon’s hardware and software additions enable DroneDog to provide live video monitoring, teleoperation, 20x optical zoom, infrared vision for nighttime operations, and automated charging for a set-and-forget system.

Watch the full DroneDog presentation (with Q&A) below….

2021 Reflections

Where better to start than with The Robot Report’s “20 Most Popular Stories of 2021“? From business headlines (such as John Deere’s acquisition of Bear Flag Robotics) through Mars-based robot helicopters to self-driving cars, these stories reflect the robot news that resonated most with readers in 2021.


2022 Predictions

ZDNet’s Greg Nichols predicts that 2022 will see machine vision with learning capabilities provide new application possibilities for roboticists, from vision-based drones and robotic harvesting to robotic sorting in recycling and warehouse pick & place. Nichols writes:

We’re finally at the inflection point: The moment where these applications are becoming good enough to provide real value in semi-structured environments where traditional robots could never succeed.

2022: A major revolution in robotics


RoboDK’s December Reading

Five more robotics news items from December that grabbed our attention.

  • Teaching Artificial Intelligence to Navigate Oceans Via Ocean Currents (AZO Robotics)
  • ‘Human-like’ brain helps robot out of a maze (ScienceDaily)

What are you most looking forward to from robotics and AI in 2022? Comment below or join the discussion on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or in the RoboDK Forum.

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