Top 10 AI & Robot Trends Stories of 2017

Boston Dynamics’ Handle robot was a headline grabber in the past year.

December 29, 2017      

It’s hard to believe 2017 is already coming to an end. And what a year it was for artificial intelligence and robotics. If the past year was any indication, 2018 is going to be a massive year for automation.

Here is a recap of the most popular Robotics Trends stories about AI and robots in 2017. Happy New Year!

1. 10 Best Robots & Drones of CES 2017

Robots of all shapes and sizes dominated CES 2017. Robots, drones, self-driving cars and robotic assistants took over Vegas to kickoff the new year, and we were there to take it all in. Read Story.

PS – Make sure to join us at CES 2018 on January 9 for our “Artificial Intelligence: Insights into Our Future” conference that will cover the state of AI. Attendees will hear leading AI experts discuss recent developments, current applications, and how AI will impact our everyday lives.

2. Top 6 Educational Robots Coming in 2017

We compiled a list of the best educational robots set to hit the market in 2017. Many were teased at CES 2017, but they’d all be great options for parents or teachers who want to give their kids a head start by exposing them to computer science at an early age. Read Story.

3. Top 50 Robotics Companies of 2017

Our sister website Robotics Business Review unveiled its sixth annual RBR50 list of the most influential robotics companies in the world. Consumer robotics companies on the RBR50 include DJI, iRobot, LEGO, Softbank and more. 2017 RBR50

4. Jeff Bezos Tests Giant $8M Method-2 Robot

If there’s anyone who can afford the $8 million price of Method-2, a 13-foot-tall mechanical robot from Korean company Hankook Mirae Technology, it’s Amazon CEO and fifth richest person in the world Jeff Bezos.

Bezos got behind the joysticks of Method-2 at Amazon’s invitation-only MARS conference. Watch the video below to see Bezos controlling the arms of Method-2 and saying, “Why do I feel so much like Sigourney Weaver,” referring to the suit she wore in the 1986 Aliens movie.

5. What AI Can and Can’t Do: DARPA’s Realistic View

Is artificial intelligence a risk to humanity? Add DARPA to the list of experts who think AI is being overblown. “There’s been a lot of hype and bluster about AI,” John Launchbury, director of DARPA’s Information Innovation Office (I2O), says in the YouTube video at the top of this page. “[There has been] talk about a Singularity, that AI will exceed the capability of human beings, maybe even displace humanity. We’re going to take a much more level-headed approach and attempt to demystify.” Read Story

6. Sophia the Robot Rides in a Self-Driving Car

Sophia, the incredibly life-like humanoid robot from Hanson Robotics, took a ride in an Audi A7 self-driving car. Sophia’s ride-along wasn’t long, but it’s still fun to get her thoughts on autonomous driving. When asked about her opinion about autonomous driving Sophia said, “to be quite honest, I think it’s mega cool … I know some people react skeptically to intelligent systems like me, but for my part, I have complete confidence in Jack.”

7. Tesla Autopilot 2.0 Fails Epicly on Curvy Road

Tesla rolled out Autopilot 2.0 late in January 2017 that added, among other features, low-speed autosteering (35 MPH). The low-speed autosteering is designed to allow Autopilot to be used on non-highways; Autopilot 1.0 was designed specifically for highways.

It looks like Autopilot 2.0 isn’t working out too well for YouTuber “Scott S,” who posted the above video that shows his Model S fail miserably while driving on a windy road at night with Autosteer and Traffic-aware cruise control (TACC) engaged. Despite a clearly marked double yellow line and great weather conditions, the Model S can’t stay in its lane, constantly veering to the other side of the road, forcing the driver to take control of the wheel.

8. Why SoftBank Bought Boston Dynamics

SoftBank, already investing billions into AI and robotics, adds to its impressive robotics portfolio with the acquisitions of Boston Dynamics and Schaft. Boston Dynamics and Schaft don’t have commercial products yet, but they will add to SoftBank’s robot portfolio, which began with its 2012 acquisition of French robotics company Aldebaran Robotics, maker of the Nao humanoid robot. Read Story

9. TurtleBot 2i: New Chassis, Robot Arm Support, Intel Joule

The TurtleBot 2i Mobile Research Robot was introduced by Interbotix Labs and the Open Source Robotics Foundation (OSRF). The TurtleBot 2i builds upon previous versions of the popular Robot Operating System (ROS) based robotics platform to provide advanced out-of-the-box capabilities to fast-track prototyping of next-gen robots.

The goal of the TurtleBot platform has always been to bring complex technologies, such as autonomous navigation and robotic manipulation, into the hands of innovators and developers in a more approachable format. The TurtleBot 2i ($2,395.95) does a great job of just that with a redesigned chassis, native support for robotic arms

10. Lyrebird AI Learns to Copy Voices in 1 Minute

Montreal-based AI startup Lyrebird has created voice imitation technology that can “copy the voice of anyone” after listening to just 60 seconds of audio. Lyrebird wants to use the technology for good reasons, but it’s easy to imagine the technology being used to create false recordings of people. Read Story