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The year 2022 was full of exciting developments in the robotics world. From schools adding robotics to the curriculum to the rumours and myths around self-driving cars, there was no dearth of things to cover in this segment this year.
We bring to you the most popular robotics stories of 2022.
Amazon fires its robotics team
Amazon has reportedly laid off its entire robotics team. Jamie Zhang, a developer working with the team, expressed shock towards the sudden decision on LinkedIn. Read the entire story here.
In other news, Amazon introduces Sparrow, the robotic arm.
First humanoid robot addresses the UK Parliament
Last month, Ai-Da, the world’s first ultra-realistic AI robot, was questioned by a committee in the UK Parliament. The parliament witnessed a robot appear before the Upper House of the UK Parliament for the first time in its history. Ai-Da continued to speak until a technical glitch arose, forcing the robot to reboot.
Tesla reveals humanoid robot ‘Optimus’
After being one of Musk’s most talked about projects and being postponed from August to September, the Tesla chief finally revealed the humanoid robot ‘Optimus’. The company explained the hardware as well as the software side of the robot. Further, they revealed some interesting updates in its full self-driving (FSD) beta version.
Xiaomi unveils its first humanoid robot
On August 11, Xiaomi unveiled its first humanoid robot ‘CyberOne’ during its product launch event in Beijing. The robot can reach a peak torque of up to 300 nm and is equipped with advanced arms, legs, and supporting bipedal-motion posture balancing. It also demonstrated the ability to detect human emotion, advanced vision capabilities, and create 3D virtual reconstructions of the real world along with various other advanced technologies.
IISc, Nokia unveil CoE for Robotics, AI and 5G
On July 8 2022, Nokia and the Indian Institute of Science inaugurated the Nokia Center of Excellence (CoE) in Networked Robotics in Bengaluru. Along with promoting interdisciplinary research of robotics, 5G and AI, the CoE will develop use cases across disciplines such as industrial automation, agriculture and disaster management. The centre aims to build an ecosystem for the research and development of the use cases.
Indian schools add robotics to the curriculum
With AI and robotics having penetrated the professional landscape, Indian schools have started to absorb courses from these fields in their syllabus to train students from an early age with age-appropriate study material. In June, the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination, or CISCE, announced that it would design AI/ML and robotics courses in ICSE and ISC levels in schools.
DeepMind’s open-sourced MuJoCo on GitHub
DeepMind, an AI research lab and subsidiary of Alphabet, in October 2021, acquired the MuJoCo physics engine for robotics research and development. The plan was to open-source the simulator and maintain it as a free, community-driven project. According to DeepMind, the entire codebase was open-sourced on GitHub in May. MuJoCo, which stands for Multi-Joint Dynamics with Contact, is a physics engine built to facilitate R&D in areas where fast and accurate simulation is needed.
Check out the GitHub repository.
Students develop robotic handles to help Parkinson’s patients
In April, class 10 students from Shiv Nadar School, Noida, developed Dextrabot, a robotic handle to help Parkinson’s disease patients. As a first step, the students conducted an internal online survey and found that 32.9 per cent of respondents were suffering from the problem of hand tremors or knew someone facing the issue.
Dextrabot is inexpensive and effective in handling hand tremors. It enables individuals to perform daily actions like eating, drinking, pouring and brushing with better hand stability.
NVIDIA Jetson AGX Orin announced
NVIDIA announced the NVIDIA Jetson AGX Orin developer kit, the AI supercomputer for everything from advanced robotics to edge computing. The kit delivers a performance of up to 275 trillion operations per second, providing users with over 8x the processing power of the previous version, the Jetson AGX Xavier. The new unit, launched in March, retains Xavier’s palm-sized form factor and pin compatibility at a similar price point.
Driverless cars in San Francisco
In February, autonomous driving company Cruise announced publicly “opening up” of its driverless cars in San Francisco. Kyle Vogt, interim CEO, CTO, and co-founder, stated that the service would open up to a small number of users and ramp up over time.
There is a sign-up form on Cruise’s website for members of the public who want to take a ride.
NASA starts using a robotic arm for JWS Telescope
At the beginning of 2022, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope began preparing for a three-month-long procedure of aligning the 18 hexagonal mirror segments. The first step was to move each segment upwards by just 12.5 mm. To place each piece precisely, engineers used a robotic arm that moved in six directions. The arm was controlled by a custom hexapod, placed at the end to ensure that each piece was placed in the correct spot.
Read more about the unique Python angle of JWS Telescope here.