October 2023: A Game-Changing Month for the Global Robotics Industry

October 2023 proved to be a dynamic period for the robotics sector, with an array of events, advancements, and stories that captured the attention of industry enthusiasts and professionals alike. This article provides a comprehensive overview of the top ten happenings in the robotics world, as reported by The Robot Report. Stay up-to-date on the latest robotics news by subscribing to The Robot Report Newsletter or tuning into The Robot Report Podcast.

A team of researchers from Cornell University made waves by integrating soft microactuators with high-energy-density chemical fuel to engineer a quadruped robot the size of an insect. Powered by combustion, these miniature robots have shown potential to outperform their electric-driven counterparts in speed, flexibility, and jumping ability.

The first International Women in Robotics Day was celebrated, an event that highlights the contribution of women in this field. Despite women constituting 48% of the total workforce and 34% of the STEM workforce, they only represent about 16% of engineering and robotics roles. The event also saw the release of the annual list of 50 women in robotics who are making significant strides in the industry.

German-based AI and robotics startup, Neura Robotics (“NEURA Robotics”), announced securing $16 million in funding, following a previous round that raised $55 million. The investment from private equity firm InterAlphen Partners will support Neura’s growth and its expansion into the US market. The company is currently developing a multi-purpose humanoid robot.

In the era of large AI models, building a full-stack robotics company presents several challenges, including high capital expenditure costs, workflow and change management, and lengthy enterprise deployment cycles. Entrepreneurs are navigating these challenges in an increasingly cash flow-focused fundraising environment.

Electric Sheep, an autonomous large-scale outdoor maintenance provider, is expanding its reach by acquiring two commercial landscaping businesses, Phenix Landscape and Complete Landscaping. This move aligns with the company’s long-term strategy to consolidate the landscaping industry.

A case study on REEM-C, PAL Robotics’ full-size biped humanoid robotics research platform, was released. REEM-C is part of a family of robots used for a variety of applications, offering a customizable basis for research into areas such as navigation, machine vision, human-robot interaction, artificial intelligence, grasping, walking, and speech recognition.

UPS, known for its history of innovation, unveiled its latest robotics innovations at work in its network. The company is enhancing its network capabilities and the employee experience through automation.

Humanoid robots are making inroads into logistics, with Amazon testing Agility Robotics’ humanoid robot, Digit, in its warehouses. The bipedal robot can grasp and lift objects and is initially being used to move empty tote boxes as Amazon explores new ways to automate its warehouses.

Zoox’s use of simulation to ensure its robotaxis are road-ready was explored. Driving is a complex task that requires constant attention and decision-making regarding road conditions, speed, position, traffic laws, and more.

Finally, Figure revealed its Figure 01 humanoid robot and demonstrated dynamic bipedal walking for the first time. The company has grown to 60 employees across various fields including AI, controls, embedded software, electrical, mechanical, actuator design, battery, integration and testing. Following its $70M funding round in May 2023, the company developed the robot in just over a year.

October 2023 was indeed a bustling period for the robotics industry. As we continue to witness advancements in electronics, computers, programming languages, and coding within this sector, it’s clear that the future of robotics is promising and exciting.