The robotics industry had its fair share of ups and downs and memorable moments in 2021. Here is a look back at our picks for the 12 most memorable robotics moments of the year. What moments did we miss? Please let us know in the comments what you’ll remember most from 2021.
Elon musk introduces tesla bot
Elon Musk had a human dressed in a Tesla Bot costume perform a bizarre dance on stage. Lame? Yes. Memorable? No doubt. It made the cut because of how embarrassing the unveiling was, not because I believe Tesla Bot will ever see the light of day or ever pick up my groceries.
Indy autonomous challenge
TUM Autonomous Motorsport from the Technische Universität München won the Indy Autonomous Challenge (IAC) It recorded the fastest 2-lap average speed of 135.944 MPH. All of the cars shared the exact same chassis, engine and body design. The cars all shared the same autonomous driving technology.
Toyota’s basketball-playing robot
Toyota’s basketball-playing robot, CUE, stole the spotlight at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. The 6-foot-10-inch tall robot sank a series of three-pointers and a half-court shot. CUE uses sensors on its torso to calculate the distance to the hoop and the angle of the basket.
Cruise’s first robotaxi ride in sf
Cruise released two videos showing its first fully driverless robotaxi ride around San Francisco. The passenger was none other than Cruise co-founder, CTO and president Kyle Vogt. The videos show both Vogt enjoying the ride in the backseat and the data captured by the car’s sensor stack.
First demo of massrobotics interoperability standard
The first public demo of MassRobotics’ interoperability standard. The demo was organized by FedEx and took place at the FedEx DART Lab. What’s brilliant about the demo is it hides complexities involved and erodes the position of proprietary information taken by many mobile robot vendors.
Atlas performs parkour
Boston Dynamics’ Atlas is the most advanced humanoid on the planet. A video released in August 2021 showed two Atlas robots nailing a parkour routine. The robots run, jump, and perform simultaneous, double backflips. All those maneuvers already seem ho-hum for Atlas.
Intel realsense fiasco
In September, Intel announced the end of life for the RealSense LiDAR, tracking and facial authentication products. At that time, it reiterated that it will “continue to sell the stereo products to current distribution customers.” The Robot Report will be keeping a close eye on this story in 2022.
Amazon underwhelms with astro consumer robot
Astro is an Echo Show on wheels. Amazon says Astro can be used for a variety of things, including home monitoring, videoconferencing with family and friends. Astro evokes memories of Anki, Blue Frog Robotics, Jibo, and Mayfield Robotics.
Waymo robotaxi confused by traffic cones
A Waymo robotaxi got stuck on a main road in California. The car was trying to make a right turn onto a multi-lane main road. The far right lane was closed off by orange construction cones. A human was supposed to arrive in mere minutes to get the car unstuck. But before the assistance arrived, the Waymo car pulled out into the road.
Boston dynamics unveils stretch robot for unloading trucks
Boston Dynamics unveiled its next-generation robot in 2021. Stretch is scheduled to go on sale in limited fashion in 2022. It will initially focus on truck unloading and later add palletizing to its repertoire. If Stretch can handle the high level of package diversity it’ll encounter, it could become Boston Dynamics’ most successful commercial robot.
Ingenuity helicopter completes first flight on mars
NASA’s Ingenuity Helicopter completed its initial flight on Mars earlier on April 19, 2021. This marked the first-ever powered, controlled flight on another planet. The $80 million, solar-powered helicopter first became airborne at 3:34 AM EDT and climbed to its prescribed maximum altitude of 10 feet.
Perseverance rover lands on mars
NASA’s Perseverance Rover and Ingenuity Mars Helicopter landed on Mars on February 18, 2021 at around 3:55 PM ET. The rover has been exploring Mars for microfossils in the rocks and soil. In September, the rover cored its first rock sample.