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Looking back on the year’s most talked-about robots

But not every robot received a warm welcome this year. Tesla was slammed by experts when it announced its concept machine in August because it seemed to undermine how long it takes to develop a useful, good robot. The public was also heavily skeptical about a few of the other debuts due to their potential to cause harm. However, those failures, combined with real-world performance and reception, are how engineers figure out the best ways to have these types of technology assist humans at home, at work, in hospitals, in scientific research, and more.

As 2021 wraps up, let’s look back at some of the coolest (and not so cool) robots that came on the scene.

Besides taking on tasks that are repetitive, labor-intensive, or difficult for humans to perform, some robots help explore unknown worlds and terrains from the deep ocean to outer space. This year, several aquatic robots were developed to be sent on underwater missions in the vast blue sea. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s Orpheus, for one, will venture into the darkest depths of Earth’s seas (and maybe one day, other planets’ oceans) to gather information and samples to help researchers better understand life at the extremes.

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