Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Top Robotics-Related Stories of 2013

by Frank Tobe, Editor and Publisher, The Robot Report

Top Robotics-Related Stories of 2013 

(all appearing in The Robot Report)

  • Google sets up Robot Division; acquires 7 start ups plus Boston Dynamics to jump-start operations
  • ROBO ETF tracking Robo-stox index created to let investors invest in the robotics industry
  • WSJ, NYT, CBS 60-Minutes, CNN Money, NBC all focus on robotics - including two covers stories in Time Magazine and two 60-Minutes segments
  • China’s 5-year plan targets robotics as a growth industry and sets up specific areas for industrial robot manufacturing, service robot development and marketing and support centers
  • Mako Surgical sells to Stryker for $1.65 billion; Apple buys PrimeSense for $350 million; MakerBot sells to Stratasys for $403 million; $35 million to 3D Robotics to mainstream aerial robotics and Airware gets $10.7 million to build generic autopilot for UASs; Liquid Robotics gets $45 million to expand marketing and double their fleet of wave gliders and KUKA buys 51% of Reis Robotics 
  • Willow Garage closes; 7 spin-offs remain; Scott Hassan moves to and heads Suitable Technologies (of Beam telepresence robot fame)
  • Unbounded Robotics - one of those spin-offs - unveiled their UR1 mobile robot. $35,000 for a one-armed robot made by the same people that developed the Willow Garage PR2 (which sold for $400,000 when it came out in 2009)
  • Rethink Robotics and Universal Robots off to good start in SME marketplace - co-robots really are a big thing. SMEs aren’t the only marketplace: VW and BMW are both using new co-bots to augment worker capabilities in auto plants.
  • Smithsonian Channel Bionic Man documentary and museum exhibitions fascinate audiences with 50% bionic man
  • Crowd funding sites will soon let investors buy stock; just waiting for regs from SEC.
  • IFR reports for industrial robot industry shows good growth prospects for rest of decade; reports for service robotics industry shows promising growth particularly in medical and logistical systems making up for the decline in defense spending

Lower-key Stories:

  • First use of robotic anesthesiologist gives rise to a whole new marketplace
  • Beams used for telepresence at trade show
  • FoxBot line of robots by Foxconn slowly entering Foxconn factories
  • Russia focusing on robotics startups and innovation in general
  • New Kinect completely redone; windfall for robotics
  • X-47B unmanned jet takes off and lands from aircraft carrier
  • List of hardware accelerators growing as are incubators and angel investors
  • ROS-Industrial list of partners growing exponentially
  • Updated Roadmap for US Robotics released and presented to Congressional Caucus
  • Intuitive Surgical regularly pummeled in news for a variety of reasons