As 2022 comes to an end, it’s time to step back and take a retrospective look at the past 12 months. In yet another turbulent year worldwide, we saw how robotics can help for the betterment of humanity (COVID crisis, climate change, etc.), and we also witnessed highly polarizing use of robotics. Let’s travel through memory lane and unpack the last year in robotics, revisiting the trends that 2022 presented!
Helping the COVID Battle
Of course, robots are also supporting one of the biggest public health problems in a century. Going into year three of COVID, robots are still helping us navigate the pandemic-era world. We saw stories about how robots continue to support humanity through this challenging time, including:
- Per Sixth Tone, here is a report about a Chinese robot that can successfully administer an automated COVID-19 test.
- From ABCAction news, an Orlando hotel deploys a “disinfection robot” to help keep its guests safe.
- In Singapore, a “robotic workforce” helps deal with labor shortages. Read about it in Reuters.
- This pandemic-inspired creation can make pizzas in 45 seconds, per SingularityHub.
Robotic Warfare and Law Enforcement
Even though it is a highly polarizing subject, we can’t ignore that robots were used in warfare and law enforcement. We saw many stories showing the militarization of robotics; battlefields are testing and proving grounds for robotics of all kinds. Robotics is on full display on Ukraine’s battlefields this year following Russia’s invasion, and that deployment is covered (in great detail) by many sources.
- Influenced by the war, the New Scientist has a sobering report on regulating autonomous weapons.
- An EDR Magazine story discusses the “Unmanned Ground Vehicle” from MilRem Robotics on the ground in Ukraine.
- A UKRinform article talks about the “sapper robots” given to Ukraine to aid in demining efforts.
Militarization in robotics isn’t limited to battlefields, however. More stories cover the use of robotics in law enforcement in domestic situations. It’s something to wonder about (and debate).
- In a domestic story, here’s a BBC piece on San Francisco’s decision (and subsequent reversal of thinking) on using autonomous weapons for law enforcement.
- Also came a pledge from Boston Dynamics and other leading industry companies not to use their platforms as weapons (you can read about it here in Engadget).
Innovations to Help Our World
On the brighter side of things, we also witnessed how robotics evolved for delivery, transportation, healthcare, etc. Some of the highlights?
- From The Hill, here is a story about the new robot taxi startup “Wisk.”
- TechXplore profiles “Pepper,” the robot to help you through medical procedures.
- The Verge details how people are modifying Amazon’s robot to deliver beverages.
- The Robot Report covers a NASA rover landing on Mars.
- The Deseret News writes about how robots helped the Olympic games go off without a hitch.
Those are a few of the inspiring, captivating stories about how robotics are helping to build a brighter future.
The Life Aquatic
Robotics helped tackle with maintenance and clean-up challenges, especially in (or on) our world’s oceans! Here are some of the highlight stories:
- From Sustainable Brands, here’s an intriguing story about the “WasteShark” robot that helps deal with plastic waste and biomass.
- Here’s a story from WPRI in Rhode Island about researchers deploying robots to better understand the intricate workings of icebergs.
- From Shephard comes a story about how robots are helping out in naval shipyards; they’re doing everything from cleaning up rust to performing visual inspections.
Marine life keeps inspiring robotic developments too:
- From USA Today comes a story about crab-like robots that should (eventually) help out with invasive surgery or fixing intricate machinery.
Saying Goodbye to 2022
Those are a few of the big stories we saw throughout 2022. As we move into 2023, it’s important to reflect on the last year’s events in robotics. For better or worse, the year reflected our highs and lows (on which we can definitely debate). However, in many stories, we saw how robotics is working for the betterment of humanity: robots helped clean our oceans, battled the pandemic, traveled across the solar system, and even grabbed beverages for humans (hey, everyone deserves a little soda break every so often).
One final note for everyone: we’d like to take the opportunity to give a giant, massive “thank you” for all the support over the year. It’s been our distinct pleasure to deliver this news and these insights to you, and we can’t wait to see what next year has in store.
Be sure to follow our monthly issues of this blog for more news from the industry throughout 2023!
Picture Credit: Chris Monroe/CNET / NASA / Brynn Anderson, Associated Press / Northwestern University