Robotics in 2018

Welcome to the special edition of Weekly Robotics in which we cover what we think are the most important news and projects of 2018. We hope that you’ll enjoy this edition as much as every other issue of Weekly Robotics and we would also like to use this occasion to wish a happy new year to all our readers.

Open Source Projects

1) NASA’s JPL Open Source Rover project.
INFO: This year we came across a fully documented Open Source Rover project from NASA that we mentioned in the issue #1. It’s also worth mentioning Sawppy rover which is a Rover inspired by the NASA’s project that is more cost-effective.

2) Ikarus electric “rocket”.
INFO: One of the projects we liked the most this year is this ducted fan motor that was featured in the issue #4. The build log video featured with the project was especially fascinating and a good learning resource.

3) Nybble quadruped cat.
INFO: Nybble is a quadruped cat project that was announced in October 2018. It could be a perfect first quadruped robot project.

4) Blimpduino 2.
JJ Robots
INFO: Another project that caught our attention is a low cost open source blimp flight controller.

5) Dexter - an open source 3D printed robot arm.
INFO: The project that won a Hackaday 2018 prize. The robot has 5 degrees of freedom (DOF) with a maximum payload capacity of 1kg. The repeatability of the robot is said to be 0.05mm.

Soft Robotics

6) Jellyfish.
INFO: This year we enjoyed learning about this Soft Robotics Jellyfish project. The above Hackaday post has you covered when it comes to follow up links with technical information and build logs.

7) Soft Robotics Toolkit.
Soft Robotics Toolkit
INFO: In the issue #8 we discovered a Soft Robotics Toolkit, a collection of free resources for design, fabrication, modeling, characterization, and control of soft robotic devices.

8) Robotic skin.
The Robot Report
INFO: In September we learned about this project allowing to turn soft objects into robots.

Robotics showmanship

9) Robotics stunt man.
INFO: In July we Disney shared information on robotics stunt man it has been working on.

10) Atlas doing parkour.
Boston Dynamics
INFO: In October Boston Dynamics released the video of it’s bipedal robot Atlas doing Parkour that wen viral.

11) Dancing Spot Mini.
Boston Dynamics
INFO: Another viral video that we’ve seen a week later after Atlas Parkour was of Spot Mini dancing to Uptown Funk.


12) TU Delft Insect Robot.
TU Delft
INFO: TU Delft researchers from MAVLab created a flapping-wing robot inspired by fruit flies

13) Ion Drive fixed wing UAV.
Ars Technica
INFO: In November this year MIT Researchers announced the first flights with a fixed wing UAV powered by ionic wind.

14) Airbus Zephyr high altitude flight.
INFO: In August Airbus Zephyr High Altitude Pseudo Satellite completed it’s record flight in which it staid in the air for almost 26 days.


15) ROS on Windows.
INFO: on 1st of October Microsoft announced an experimental release of ROS for Windows.

16) AWS Robomaker.
INFO: In November Amazon announced AWS Robomaker - a service for development, test and deployment of robot software. The service is based on ROS Kinetic and some sources report that it will support ROS 2 in the near future.

17) ROSCON 2018.
INFO: The ROSCON 2018 took place in September 2018. The linked page has links to all the talks from this event. It’s worth noting the amount of talks related to ROS 2.


18) Gatwick Airport disruption due to Drone sighting.
sUAS News
INFO: A very unfortunate event for the Drone industry as a whole. Sources report that the disruption affected 1000 flights and over 140,000 passengers. Although it’s still too early to say what the incident will result in it’s almost certain that it will affect the drone industry in one way or another.

19) Uber self-driving crash resulting in fatality.
INFO: An unfortunate event from March this year, where an Uber self-driving car struck and killed a Woman in Tempe, Arizona. The linked source is a preliminary report from NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board).

20) Fatal Tesla Autopilot crash.
INFO: On 23rd of March 2018 a Tesla Model X, reportedly in Autopilot mode, crashed into a concrete barrier killing the driver.


21) Hayabusa Rovers asteroid hopping.
INFO: In October this year two Rovers were deployed onto the surface of Ryugu comet. We included a link covering the technical information about those hopping rovers in the issue #7.

22) NASA Hubble telescope gyro recovery.
INFO: In October NASA successfully recovered Hubble from a Gyro failure. The above page contains a good amount of technical details about the recovery process.

23) Copenhagen Suborbitals.
Copenhagen Suborbitals
INFO: This year we learned about Copenhagen Suborbitals, the amateur manned space program staffed by volunteers.

24) Parker Solar Probe.
INFO: On 12th of August a Parker Solar Probe was launched. The goal of the mission is to get as close as 3.8 million km from the sun surface, probing it’s atmosphere.


25) Rethink robotics close down.
The Robot Report
INFO: In the beginning of October we learned about Rethink Robotics closing down after rising $150M.

26) Alphabet to pull the plug on bipedal robot development.
INFO: In November we learned about Alphabet dissolving Schaft, a developer of bipedal robots that Google acquired in 2013.

27) The hunt for Robot Unicorns.
INFO: This article from September was very informative source of information about Robotics from the perspective of Venture-Capital.

28) 10 Most Funded Robotics Companies of 2018
The Robot Report
INFO: The above article from Robot Report lists Robotics companies that raised the most funding in 2018.

The publications we covered this year