Podcast: 2023 year in review – GenAI, humanoids dominate robotics industry

On the show this week, editors Steve Crowe, Gene Demaitre, and Mike Oitzman sit down and review their favorite robotics news stories from 2023.
This episode also features UC Berkeley’s Ken Goldberg, Interact Analysis’ Ash Sharma, ASTM International’s Aaron Prather, The New Warehouse’s Kevin Lawton, and Formant’s Jeff Linnell. They all share their thoughts on the most interesting robot news of the year.
At the top of our list is the splash that generative AI and humanoid robots have made this year, and the speakers also provide a snapshot of the state of the robotics industry.

Top stories of the year

So what were the biggest robotics news stories of the year?
  1. Generative AI and its influence on robotics development.
  2. In 2023, developers announced a historic number of humanoid robots, including the following:
  3. In the warehousing and logistics market, autonomous trailer unloading was one of the applications that matured as multiple vendors launched and deployed new systems into real customer applications for the first time. This is an area to watch in the coming years because trailer unloading remains a bottleneck in logistics workflows.
  4. On the downside, in the first half of 2023, the North American robotics market ordered 16,865 robots, down 29% compared with the first half of 2022, according to the Association for Advancing Automation. Investment funding for robotics startups also dried up compared to recent years.
  5. Finally, the biggest failure of the year and the biggest setback came with the California DMV rescinding of Cruise’s autonomous operations permit. This occurred after multiple incidents where the GM unit’s robotaxis failed to operate effectively on public roads. As a result, Cruise ceased all autonomous vehicle (AV) operations in the U.S., made changes to executive leadership, and laid off 24% of its workforce. These events rocked the autonomous driving market in 2023 and put tremendous pressure on the remaining AV vendors.

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Written by

Mike Oitzman

Mike Oitzman is Senior Editor of WTWH's Robotics Group, cohost of The Robot Report Podcast, and founder of the Mobile Robot Guide. Oitzman is a robotics industry veteran with 25-plus years of experience at various high-tech companies in the roles of marketing, sales and product management. He can be reached at moitzman@wtwhmedia.com.