6 min read

From humanoids and androids to self-driving cars and automated drones, robots are re-imagining all aspects of our lives, opening up new possibilities and helping us solve problems in smart new ways.


According to the International Federation of Robotics, by 2019, 31 million robots will be helping in households worldwide and by 2020, more than 1.7 million will be entering our factories.

Here are 10 robots whose concepts and technology are redefining everything from agriculture to healthcare to communications, in what is being described as “the new renaissance”.

1. YuMi

YuMi by ABB
Credit: YuMi – ABB

Developer: ABB

Sector: Manufacturing

Job: Small-parts assembly

Arrived: 2015

Life-changing capabilities: ABB’s collaborative dual and single arm YuMi robot takes production to the next level, optimising processes and supporting the transition to Industry 4.0. It’s compact, dextrous and accurate enough to thread a needle and can work safely alongside humans. Collision detection sensors and lead-through programming give it the ability to sense obstacles and learn on the job.

Source: new.abb.com

2. Buddy

Buddy by Blue Frog Robotics
Credit: Buddy – Blue Frog Robotics

Developer: Blue Frog Robotics

Sector: Home

Job: Companion/assistant

Arrived: 2016

Life-changing capabilities: Designed to improve daily life and affordable to all, Buddy is enabled by inbuilt sensors, 3D cameras and WiFi connectivity. As well as offering in-home security, kitchen assistance, edutainment for kids and integrating with smart-home tech, he can ease loneliness for elderly people living on their own by providing accessible social interaction.

Source: bluefrogrobotics.com

3. Xaver

Xaver by Fendt
Credit: Xaver – Fendt

Developer: AGCO/Fendt

Sector: Agriculture and farming

Job: High-precision planting

Arriving: Unveiled 2017

Life-changing capabilities: This autonomous 6-12 robot swarm can precisely plant and map seeds around the clock, using satellite navigation and data management in the cloud. It needs 70% less energy than traditional machinery, minimises soil compaction and offers a sustainable food production model for our growing population needs.

Source: fendt.com

4. BioMot exoskeleton

BioMot exoskeleton - Neural Rehabilitation Group
Credit: Neural Rehabilitation Group

Developer: NRG-CSIC

Sector: Healthcare

Job: Mobility assistance/rehabilitation

Arriving: Next 5-10 years

Life-changing capabilities: The next generation of mobile therapies, the BioMot exoskeleton wearable robot is compact, lightweight and can assist people with severe difficulties moving or walking. Dynamic sensorimotor interactions between a central program and feedback sensors boost symbiosis between robot and user, enabling real-time adaptability and flexibility.

Source: biomotproject.eu

5. The Plantoid

Developer: Instituto Italiano Di Tecnologia (project co-ordinator)

Sector: Environment

Job: Screening/soil monitoring

Arriving: Unspecified

Life-changing capabilities: Using miniaturised 3D printers to grow, the Plantoid mimics the properties of plant roots, using rich sensorised probes to autonomously explore the surrounding environment. Information on air, food, water and soil quality is then sent back to an operator via a network. The hope is eventually it will also be able to self-correct any issues detected.

Source: plantoidproject.eu / (All images: IIT-Instituto Italiano di Tecnologia)

6. Parcelcopter 3.0

Parcelcopter 3.0 by DPDHL
Credit: Parcelcopter 3.0 – DPDHL

Developer: Deutsche Post DHL Group

Sector: Transport and logistics

Job: Parcel delivery

Arrived: 2016

Life-changing capabilities: As ecommerce grows, smarter, more efficient delivery solutions will be needed. Parcelcopter 3.0 is the first robot to offer fully automated (including loading and unloading) routine air parcel deliveries to end-customers. Thanks to DHL’s high level of technical and procedural maturity, it’s one step ahead of similar models such as Amazon Prime Air.

Source: dpdhl.com

7. Double 2

Double 2 by Double Robotics
Credit: Double 2 – Double Robotics

Developer: Double Robotics

Sector: Communications

Job: Interactive telepresence

Arrived: 2016

Life-changing capabilities: A remote-controlled mobile telecom system, the Double 2 lets users virtually attend lessons, meeting or events and engage in conversations freely. Using lateral stability control, a power drive motor, a 150-degree wide-angle lens and a 5 megapixel camera, it brings in a new era of effective communication for today’s ever-growing army of remote workers.

Source: doublerobotics.com

8. Pepper

Pepper – SoftBank Robotics
Credit: Pepper – Wiki CC 2.0

Developer: SoftBank Robotics

Sector: Customer service & retail

Job: Personalised assistance

Arrived: 2016

Life-changing capabilities: Pepper is the world’s first robot able to recognise human emotions and adapt its behaviour according. Enabled by 4 directional microphones, 3D cameras, 360-degree movement and internet connectivity, it’s already changing the face of customer service. As well as greeting people and answering questions, he can also share insightful data to assist marketing.

Source: ald.softbankrobotics.com

9. L2TOR

L2TOR
Credit: L2TOR.eu

Developer: EU Commission sponsored

Sector: Education

Job: Teaching children languages

Arriving: Project ends 2018

Life-changing capabilities: In response to increased mobility within Europe and internationalisation, the L2TOR tutor robot is being developed to better teach languages to the next generation. Using and building on current social robot tech, including multimodal interface and social signal processing, it will set a new precedent for machine-assisted learning.

Source: l2tor.eu

10. K1

K1 by Knightscope
Credit: K1 – Knightscope

Developer: Knightscope

Sector: Security

Job: Entry/exit surveillance   

Arriving: 2018

Life-changing capabilities: In an age of increased terrorist attacks, K1 offers a new way to control points of exit and entry. Features include sensors and scanners to detect people, weapons and radiation, 360-degree live streaming, plus licence-plate recognition. Data is relayed via a network and an alarm sounds if a threat is detected. Its tech will help build stronger, safer communities.

Source: knightscope.com

Now that intelligent machines are a very real part of our world, the rules on how we live and work have changed irrevocably. The possibilities of what they can do for, and with, us in the future are both exciting and endless.