From the parkour before the surgery: ten of the latest achievements of robotics

The robotic revolution may not come, but our mechanical brothers achieved considerable success. And now some of the leading experts in this area presented a short list of ten of the most exciting recent developments. In this list some of the most impressive, original, research, innovation and commercial products that we saw in 2018, as well as a couple of 2017, which is definitely worth a look.

Robot traceur Atlas from Boston Dynamics

Not seem to goes a couple months without that Boston Dynamics rewrites the guide on what can and can’t do the robot. Last year the company has outdone itself, making the Atlas robot to do parkour, jumping over logs and jumping between the wooden boxes.

The creators of the Atlas have acknowledged that the video that we see has been carefully selected from several attempts, many of which were not very successful. However, they say they wanted to inspire, not to accurately reflect where is robotics today. Well, we will forgive them this.

Intuitive surgical da Vinci SP platform

Robotic surgery — the area is not new, but the technology is improving quickly. The market leader in surgical robots, the da Vinci Intuitive robot was first approved by the FDA in 2000, but since then has come a long way, and now the company produces three separate systems.

Latest addition system is a single port da Vinci SP, is able to introduce three instruments into the body through one of 2.5 cm cannula (tube) that gives a whole new meaning to minimally invasive surgery. Last year the system received FDA approval for conducting urology procedures, and now the company has started to deliver a new system to clients.

Soft robot that moves in the process of growth

Robotics has long borrowed principles from the animal world, but the new design a robot that mimics the movement of plant tendrils and fungi in the growth process, opened the eyes of navigation robots.


Here’s an ideal example viewdocsonline design; researchers do not just copy nature, they’ve taken the General principle and expanded it. Tubular robot turns at the front with pneumatic pressure, but, unlike plants, can grow with the pace of the animal to navigate using visual feedback from the camera.

3D-printed liquid crystal elastomers for soft robotics

Soft robotics is one of the fastest growing disciplines in the field, but the power of these devices without hard motors or pumps constantly becomes a problem. As a potential artificial muscle have been proposed various shape-changing materials, including liquid crystal elastomer resulting mechanisms.

Harvard engineers have demonstrated that these materials can be printed on a 3D printer using a special ink that allow the developer to easily program all types of special abilities change shape. Moreover, their method produces actuators that can lift significantly more weight than in previous approaches.

Artificial muscles: samoklejushchiesja, hydraulically reinforced drive

In an attempt to find a way to bring the power of soft robotics, last year scientists from the University of Colorado have developed a series of extremely inexpensive artificial muscles that can lift 200 times its own weight, and even heal itself.

These devices are based on the sacks filled with a liquid, which causes them to contract with force and speed in skeletal muscle upon application of voltage. Most promising for applications in robotics is the so-called Peano-HASEL, which is several rectangular packages connected in series, which can be compressed linearly as real muscles.

Self-assembled nanoscale robot from DNA

If you used to think about robots as giant metal machines, a large number of scientists working on the creation of nanoscale robots from DNA. And last year, German scientists created the first robotic arm with remote control from DNA.

They created a segment of closely related DNA molecules, which acted as a manipulator, and attached it to the base of the DNA via a flexible joint. Since DNA carries a charge, they managed to force the manipulator to rotate the arrow like hours, the feeding voltage and changing the direction by changing this voltage. It is hoped that this hand is ultimately can be used to make materials in pieces at the nanoscale.

The winged robot DelFly

Robotics not only borrows from biology, and sometimes debts. And the new robot with wings, designed by Dutch engineers, imitating the humble fruit fly, has done precisely that, showing how animals perform their maneuvers, evading predators.

This lab was created by waving robots for many years, but this time she refused from the tail of the plane, which was used to manage previous incarnations. Instead, they used the pairs of wings, as in insects, to float, to roll over and fall with the agility of a fruit fly. This provided a useful platform to study the dynamics of insect flight, as well as more useful applications.

Soft robotic exoskeleton

Exoskeletons must prevent injury in the workplace, to help people regain the ability to walk and even increase stamina of soldiers. The use of bulky uniforms, however, does not seem to be the ideal, so researchers from Harvard working on a soft exoskeleton that combines specially designed fabrics, lightweight sensors and actuators.

And last year teams carried out a major breakthrough, combining their new exoskeleton with a machine learning algorithm that automatically configures the device in accordance with the specific style of walking of the user. Using physiological data, it can adjust when and where the device has to stimulate the natural movement of the user to improve the efficiency of walk.

e-Series Cobots from Universal Robotics

Robots in factories is not new. A huge mechanical manipulators that you see in car factories, usually kept in cages, not to accidentally hurt people. In recent years there has been growing interest in so-called “lobotamy”, collaboration (assistive) robots, designed to work shoulder to shoulder with people and even learning from them.

At the beginning of this year we have seen the decline of ReThink robotics, a pioneer of this approach. But simple one-handed device, manufactured by the Danish firm Universal Robotics have become widespread in workshops and in warehouses around the world, accounting for about half of global sales chobotov. Last year they released their latest line of e-Series with enhanced security features, and the sense of power and torque.

Aibo from Sony

After a nearly 20-year hiatus, the robotic dog Aibo is back, and this time with very interesting updates. In addition to improving appearance, the new robot pet uses the advantages of artificial intelligence, a better understanding of the environment and the team and develops a unique character based on interaction with its owner.

A new understanding of context – this is what characterizes the evolution of social robots, which many hope will be able to help in their children’s education or to provide support for the elderly.