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2021 Press Releases


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Can Elon Musk and Tesla really build a humanoid robot in 2022?

New Scientist | December 30, 2021

In August 2021, Elon Musk announced that Tesla would build a humanoid robot designed to ?eliminate dangerous, repetitive, boring tasks? and respond to voice commands, promising to show off a prototype in 2022. Can the company deliver on Musk?s goal? Florian Richter at the University of California, San Diego, points to the Atlas robot from Boston Dynamics which can run, jump and perform a range of tasks, but which also has a bulky body and a large backpack-style battery pack. Full Story


"Self-Destructing Plastic" Wins Top Prize in Create the Future Contest

Robotics Tomorrow | October 7, 2021

Over 300 million tons of plastic are produced annually - equivalent to the entire weight of the human population. Less than 10% is recycled; most end up in landfills. A research team from the University of California Berkeley and Intropic Materials are attacking this problem from the inside out, by embedding enzymes in the plastics during manufacturing that, once triggered, cause the plastics to self-destruct and completely degrade in days. All that's left behind are small molecules that can be composted or used to make new plastics. Full Story


The Grid Isn't Ready for the Renewable Revolution

Wired | October 6, 2021

You can almost hear the electrical grid creaking and groaning under the weight of the future, as two forces converge to push it--often literally--to its breaking point. One force is climate change, which can exacerbate disasters that take down parts of the grid, as Hurricane Ida did this summer, knocking New Orleans offline just as a heat wave settled in. Or extreme weather can suddenly spike the demand for energy just when the grid is least able to provide it, like during last winter's Texas freeze and subsequent power system failure. Full Story


Big Hopes for Microsurgical Robots

MD+DI Qmed | September 15, 2021

Two European companies are betting their futures on a so-far unexploited niche in robotic surgery-the literally tiny fields of microsurgery and supermicrosurgery. One of these vendors, Calci, Italy-based Medical Microinstruments (MMI) SpA, has already launched its Symani surgical system commercially. The other, Eindhoven, Netherlands-based Microsure, expects to launch its MUSA robot some time in 2022. Both companies have received their CE Mark and significant interest from investors, including the European Union?s European Investment Bank. Full Story


Faster Microfiber Actuators Mimic Human Muscle UCSD researchers make an artificial muscle prototype from liquid crystals

IEEE Spectrum | September 14, 2021

Robotics, prosthetics, and other engineering applications routinely use actuators that imitate the contraction of animal muscles. However, the speed and efficiency of natural muscle fibers is a demanding benchmark. Despite new developments in actuation technologies, for the most past artificial muscles are either too large, too slow, or too weak. Recently, a team of engineers from the University of California San Diego (UCSD) have described a new artificial microfiber made from liquid crystal elastomer (LCE) that replicates the tensile strength, quick responsiveness, Full Story