The editors of Science Robotics have chosenthe most exciting robotic technologies for 2018.
Here are just some of the big innovations from last yearA new video of the world's most dynamic humanoidshow’s Boston Dynamics’ Atlas jumpingover a log with one leg, and bounding up increasinglyhigher wooden boxes without breaking pace.
These feats add to walking on challenging terrain,lifting and manipulating objects,and executing a backflip like a gymnast.
For this latest parkour-type behavior,the control software uses the arms, legs, andtorso to manage energy.
Atlas also has a novel visual sensing systemto judge each leap.
Although these behaviors are not achieved for all trials,the demonstrations serve as an inspirationfor what robots can do in the near future.
This tailless flapping robot is a perfect exampleof bioinspired design—design that helps both to develop new technologiesand to unveil the secrets of hownature builds living things.
Surprisingly, this bot can accurately reproducethe rapid escape maneuvers of fruit flieseven with no explicit control of all its rotational axes.
And although it is over 50 times the size of a fruit flyand does not mimic the wing morphologyor kinematics of any specific natural flyer,it shows that the bot can serve as a physical modelto test how flying organisms control flight.
The editors consider it a paradigmatic exampleof “science for robotics and robotics for science”and expect that it will advance the developmentof all flying robots.
This year we saw a self-assembling DNA origamistructure that can be moved precisely by externallyapplied electric fields.
That means nanoscale DNA robotscan be controlled by a macro-level switch.
Molecular robots like these can be used fortransport of molecules or nanoparticles overtens of nanometers and open the door toprogrammable synthesis and assembly of materialsfrom the bottom up.
If you need an exoskeleton to help you move,you probably don’t want it to be as heavyas Iron Man’s.
A new light-weight, stretchy exosuitoffers new ways of integrating fabric design, sensing,robotic control, and actuation to increase the wearer’sstrength, balance and endurance.
And human-in-the-loop control allows betterintegration with natural movement.
The return of Aibo,first introduced nearly 20 years ago by Sony,brings increasing awareness of the rolesocial robots can play in childhood learningor as companions for the aged.
Understanding the perceptions, interactions,and expectations of the people around the robot,and developing robot behaviors and personalitiesthat are context awareare key challenges of social robotics.