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Robotics Industry Trends and Achievements in 2023

Highlights

  • 2023 showcased innovations and a drop in robotics funding.

  • Humanoid robots advanced but faced deployment challenges.

  • Generative AI influenced robotics; AVs saw public concern.

The year 2023 witnessed a surge of innovative developments in the robotics industry, showcasing an array of advanced technologies. Despite the technological progress, there was a noticeable decrease in robotics funding, and certain sectors faced challenges in earning public trust.

Humanoid robots, despite being overshadowed by ChatGPT, were a significant story of the year. Boston Dynamics released videos of their Atlas robot performing tasks on a simulated construction site. Other notable humanoid robots included Figure 01, Phoenix, H1, Apollo, and Tesla‘s Optimus. Investments and plans for mass production of humanoids, like China’s announcement for 2025, underscored the industry’s focus.

Many humanoid robots were primarily developed for logistics, and none have yet been deployed in production environments due to technical challenges. Their size, weight, and interaction with humans demand rigorous safety considerations, as noted by the establishment of a new subcommittee by ASTM International.

At RoboBusiness 2023, experts from leading humanoid robot companies discussed the evolution of robot dexterity and design challenges. Agility Robotics notably demonstrated their Digit’s capabilities in a logistics setting and disclosed plans for their new factory aimed at mass production.

Generative AI made significant strides, not just in the field of robotics but across tech industries, with GPT-3.5 reaching 100 million users in a short time. Various companies released AI-driven projects, and robotics firms began to integrate generative AI, enhancing robots’ abilities to understand and execute natural-language instructions.

While avant-garde applications captured the limelight, traditional robotic applications like picking and mobile robots made significant breakthroughs. Locus Robotics’ robots surpassed two billion units picked, and advances in picking robots’ flexibility and ease of installation were noted. Additionally, “no-code” systems became more prevalent.

Autonomous vehicles faced regulatory challenges and public skepticism, particularly General Motors’ Cruise, which encountered investigations and operational setbacks. Trust in the AV industry will require more time to rebuild. The year ended with a decrease in robot sales after two record-setting years but continued enthusiasm for future AI-powered robotics innovations.

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