From Parkour to Surgery: Ten Latest Advances in Robotics

The robot revolution may not yet have come, butour smaller mechanical brothers have made great strides. And now some of the leading experts in this field have provided a short list of the ten most exciting new developments. This list includes a number of the most impressive, original, research, innovative and commercial products that we saw in 2018, as well as a couple of 2017, which are definitely worth a look.

Atlas robot park from Boston Dynamics

It seems that a couple of months don't pass withoutBoston Dynamics rewrites the instructions that the robot can and cannot do. Last year, the company surpassed itself, forcing the Atlas robot to engage in parkour, jumping over logs and jumping between wooden boxes.

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The creators of Atlas recognized that the videos that wesee, it was carefully selected from several attempts, many of which were not very successful. However, they say they wanted to inspire, and not accurately reflect, where the robotics is today. Well, forgive them for it.

Intuitive surgical platform da Vinci SP

Robotic surgery - the area is far fromnew, but technology is improving rapidly. The market leader in surgical robots, the Intuitive da Vinci robot was first approved for use by the FDA in 2000, but since then it has come a long way, and now the company has manufactured three separate systems.

The latest addition to the system is a separate port.da Vinci SP, capable of inserting three instruments into the body through a single 2.5 centimeter cannula (tube), which gives a completely new meaning to minimally invasive surgery. Last year, the system received FDA approval for urological procedures, and now the company has begun to deliver a new system to customers.

A soft robot that moves as it grows

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

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This is a perfect example of bio-inspireddesign; The researchers did not just copy nature, they took a general principle and expanded it. The tubular robot unfolds from the front using pneumatic pressure, but, unlike a plant, it can grow at the speed of a walking animal and move using visual feedback from the camera.

3D printed liquid crystal elastomers for soft robotics

Soft robotics is one of the mostfast-growing disciplines in this area, but the power of these devices without rigid engines or pumps is constantly becoming a problem. Various form-changing materials have been proposed as potential artificial muscles, including liquid crystal elastomer mechanisms.

Harvard engineers have demonstrated that theseMaterials can be printed on a 3D printer using special ink, which allows the developer to easily program all kinds of unusual shape changing abilities. Moreover, their method produces drives capable of lifting significantly more weight than in previous approaches.

Artificial muscle: self-healing, hydraulically enhanced drives

In an attempt to find a way to provide soft powerrobotics, last year, scientists from the University of Colorado developed a series of extremely inexpensive artificial muscles capable of lifting 200 times its own weight and even self-healing.

These devices are based on bags filleda fluid that causes them to contract with the force and speed of skeletal muscles when energized. The most promising for use in robotics is the so-called Peano-HASEL, which represents several rectangular packets connected in series, which are compressed linearly, like real muscles.

Self-assembly nanoscale robot from DNA

If you are used to thinking of robots asgiant metal machines, a significant number of scientists are working on the creation of nanoscale robots from DNA. And last year, German scientists created the first remote-controlled robotic manipulator from DNA.

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They created a segment of closely related DNA molecules,which acted as a manipulator, and attached it to the base of the DNA using a flexible joint. Because DNA carries a charge, they managed to make the manipulator rotate like the hand of a clock, applying voltage and changing direction by changing this voltage. It is hoped that this hand can ultimately be used to create materials in pieces on a nano-scale.

Winged robot delfly

Robotics not only borrows from biology -sometimes it returns debts. And the new robot with wings, designed by Dutch engineers, imitating a modest fruit fly, did just that, showing how animals perform their maneuvers, dodging predators.

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This lab created swinging robots infor many years, but this time she abandoned the tail, like an airplane that was used to control previous incarnations. Instead, they used the movement of pairs of wings, like insects, so that they could soar, roll over and fall with the agility of a fruit fly. This provided a useful platform for studying the dynamics of insect flight, as well as more useful applications.

Soft robotic exoskeleton

Exoskeletons must prevent injury tojobs, help people regain the ability to walk and even increase the stamina of soldiers. The use of bulky clothing, however, does not seem ideal, so scientists from Harvard are working on a soft exoskeleton, combining specially designed fabrics, sensors and lightweight drives.

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And last year, the teams carried out an importanta breakthrough by combining its new exoskeleton with a machine learning algorithm that automatically adjusts the device according to the user's specific walking style. Using physiological data, it can adjust when and where the device should stimulate the natural movement of the user to improve walking efficiency.

Universal Robotics e-Series Cobots

Robots in factories are far from new. The huge mechanical manipulators that you see in automobile factories are usually kept in cages in order not to harm people by chance. In recent years, there has been a growing interest in the so-called “kobot”, collaborative (auxiliary) robots, designed to work shoulder to shoulder with people and even learn from them.

Earlier this year, we saw a declineRobotics ReThink, the pioneer of this approach. But simple one-armed devices made by the Danish firm Universal Robotics have become ubiquitous in workshops and warehouses around the world, which represents about half of the global sales of kobot. Last year, they released their newest e-Series lineup with improved safety features and a sense of power and torque.

Sony's aibo

After almost a 20-year break, roboticAibo's dog is back, and this time with some very interesting updates. In addition to improving the appearance, the new robot pet takes advantage of artificial intelligence, better understands the environment and commands, and also develops a unique character based on interaction with its owner.

A new understanding of the context is what characterizes the evolution of social robots, which, as many hope, will be able to help educate children or provide support for the elderly.

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