Robots are taking over the world – not really, not yet – but sure, we’re getting there. While most of the AI community was fascinated by large language models the entire year, simultaneously there were advancements happening in the world of robotics, too!
We saw several humanoid robots making it to the headlines all around the year but that was not it. Apart from human-like robots, here are 6 robotics updates from 2023 that caught our attention:
Boston Dynamics’ Atlas Gets an Update
Boston Dynamics came out with a jaw-dropping video in January called ‘Atlas Gets a Grip’, showing its humanoid robot’s new skills at a pretend construction site. The star of the show, Atlas, uses a claw gripper to pick up tools and create a wooden bridge to access a scaffold.
The robot even tosses a toolbag to a “construction worker” and elegantly flips down from the scaffold. Boston Dynamics spills the details of these moves in their blog.
ChatGPT Enters Robotics
In February, Microsoft wowed its users by upgrading ChatGPT to not only command a robotic arm but also steer an aerial drone. They spilled the details in a technical paper, sharing design principles for making language models savvy in robotics.
Microsoft admitted that ChatGPT, smart as it is, still needs a bit of human assistance to program robots.
And the cherry on top was that the model built the Microsoft logo with wooden blocks, proving it can recall, draw, and translate digital skills into physical actions.
We Have Autonomous Solar Piling Robots!
In March, Built Robotics, the San Francisco based startup of construction robotics, released the RPD 35 – a solar piling robot that dances to its own autonomous tune.
Wrangling with piles in the solar game is no small feat, and most sun-soaked farms demand several of these stakes. Since its debut back in 2018, the researchers at Built Robotics have choreographed the robots to install over 2 gigawatts of solar capacity nationwide. That’s enough juice to light up the living spaces of more than 400,000 homes!
Robotics investments top $1.63B
April saw $1.63 billion flowing into the coffers of robotics ventures, all thanks to 47 strategic investments. The heavyweight in this financial tango was none other than the Korean firm, 42dot, leading the pack in autonomous driving.
Automaker leader Hyundai Motor and its sibling Kia spilled the beans on April 25, revealing plans to drop $787.05 million (that’s 1.05 trillion won, mind you) to snag some prime shares in this autonomous mobility firm.
ViamOS Becomes Generally Available
While much was happening on the hardware side in robotics, Viam software took the center stage, marking its official debut with full-fledged support for roboticist venturing into production applications. Viam stands as an important software tool, equipped to empower robotic developers with all the essential services for development and prototyping of their robotic solutions.
The company delivers software development tool tailor-made to withstand real world challenges. Viam, with its standard programming protocol, holds its place as a versatile solution catering to every stage of development, from prototypes to the final production.
ChatGPT Powers Tomato Picking Robot
Researchers from the Technical University in Delft, Netherlands, and the Swiss technical university EPFL collaborated to use ChatGPT in creating a tomato-picking robot, as outlined in Nature Machine Intelligence.
ChatGPT played an important role throughout the development journey. In the initial stages, researchers consulted ChatGPT to determine the type of robot they should design. By posing questions about the future’s challenges for humanity, the AI-guided them toward concerns related to the food supply, ultimately steering their focus to developing a robot for tomato-picking.
The decision to focus on tomatoes was influenced by ChatGPT’s insights, indicating that automating the harvesting of tomatoes held substantial economic value.