Mercedes-Benz's robotic revolution

PLUS: Insect invisibility cloaking tech

Welcome, Tech enthusiasts.

The robots are coming, and they're headed straight for the factory floor.

A new partnership between Mercedes-Benz and Apptronik just signaled another step into a quickly accelerating new era of human-robot collaboration. Let’s explore…

In today’s tech rundown:

  • Mercedes-Benz piloting humanoid robots

  • Leafhopper secret inspires invisibility tech

  • 7 New products

  • Rivian joins Tesla charging network

  • Sony presses pause on PSVR2

  • Telegram’s $330M raise

Read time: 3 minutes

TODAY’S HEADLINES

ROBOTICS TECH

Image source: Apptronik

The Rundown: Mercedes-Benz just entered into a commercial agreement with Apptronik to pilot the company's Apollo humanoid robot in the automaker’s manufacturing facility in Hungary.

The details:

  • Mercedes-Benz will explore use cases for Apollo to automate low-skill, physically demanding, and repetitive tasks on the production line.

  • Potential applications include delivering kitted parts to human workers for assembly while simultaneously inspecting components.

  • The 5'8" tall, 160-pound robot can lift up to 55 pounds and features a force control architecture for safe collaboration with human workers.

  • Mercedes isn’t the first automaker to explore humanoid robots, with the BMW entering into agreement with Figure in January to deploy its Figure 01 on factory floors.

Why it matters: As robotics capabilities continue to accelerate, seeing the tech deployed on factory floors will soon be the norm — not something that makes headlines. But these deployments showcase technology that is likely a lot farther along than most people realize.

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INVISIBILITY TECH

Image source: Earth.com

The Rundown: Researchers at Penn State just unlocked how an insect secretion manipulates light, paving the way for innovative applications like invisibility cloaking and solar energy harvesting.

The details:

  • Leafhoppers make tiny soccer ball-shaped particles called bronchoscopes and cover themselves with the secretion for cloaking.

  • Researchers used advanced 3D printing to copy the shape of brochosomes, demonstrating their ability to reduce light reflection by up to 94%.

  • Future applications range from more efficient solar panels and protective pharmaceutical coatings to data encryption.

Why it matters: This discovery is a prime example of how technological insights and breakthroughs can come from even the tiniest of creatures in nature. If we have invisibility cloaks soon, we might have the humble leafhopper to thank.

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SNIPPETS

EV automaker Fisker is suspending vehicle production for six weeks, seeking to pursue strategic initiatives and potential investments amid financial challenges and quality issues.

TikTok detailed a new program that will pay creators based on "search value," encouraging them to create content aligned with search queries and positioning the platform as a serious competitor to traditional search engines.

Rivian announced that owners will now have access to Tesla Superchargers, with the company providing a free adapter to enable charging at 15,000 DC fast chargers across the U.S.

Uber agreed to pay $271.8M to Australian taxi drivers to settle a 2019 class action lawsuit alleging the company’s move into the country caused significant lost income.

Messaging app Telegram raised $330M through an oversubscribed bond offering, with the company continuing to explore a potential IPO.

Sony has paused production of its PSVR2 headset due to a growing inventory of unsold units, with the $550 VR accessory struggling to attract consumers.

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THAT’S A WRAP

If you have anything interesting to share, please reach out to us by sending us a DM on Twitter: @rowancheung & @therundowntech

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