When Did Robotics Start? Focuses on the invention of machines that can be programmed to do specific tasks. The first industrial robot was the programmable Unimate, a hydraulic heavy lifting arm that could perform arbitrary sequences of motion. Invented by an American engineer in 1954, the Unimate became the first industrial robot, and was introduced into factories in the automotive industry in 1959. This robot was designed to replace manual labor for heavy-lifting jobs, such as die-casting.
The term “robot” was first used in fiction by Czech playwright Karel Capek in 1920, as a play called “R.U.R.” (Rossum’s Universal Robots) depicted a factory with thousands of artificial humanoids working so cheaply that they could cut weaving costs by up to 80 percent. This play raised existential fears that humans would soon be replaced by machines.
The development of computers and the first integrated circuit in 1963 accelerated the automation race. Early industrial robots were designed with no external sensors, but could perform basic tasks such as picking up a piece of metal. By the 1960s, prototypes of industrial robots were deployed in Ford and General Motors facilities, and were widely adopted. Later, large companies began developing industrial robots and automated assembly lines. The growth of this technology was fueled by the technological revolution, which changed the world forever.
In 1898, Nikola Tesla demonstrated a remotely operated submersible boat at Madison Square Garden. This pioneering technology led to the development of the first humanoid robot. However, these robots weren’t taken seriously until the 20th century. The industrial age of robotics didn’t really begin until the mid-1950s, when robots became widely used in manufacturing. In time, the technology spread to medical, military, and aerospace industries, and the entertainment industry adapted them to different scenarios.
In 1954, George Devol designed a prototype of a robot, called the Unimate. This prototype was able to pick up and stack hot metal. A few years later, General Motors began using Unimate in its factories. By the mid-1960s, computer scientists realized that robotics could go beyond the mere movement of objects. The Unimate was a mechanical marvel, but the future was bright for robots.
In 1966, an autonomous robot called Shakey the Robot was invented at Stanford University. The robot could be given general instructions and would rationally decide how to accomplish the task. By identifying objects in its path and navigating around obstacles, Shakey was an amazing accomplishment. It was subsequently inducted into the Carenegie Mellon Robot Hall of Fame. It was the first robot to perform human tasks. It also made many advances in visual analysis, object manipulation, and route finding.
Despite the term “robot”, robotics has a long history. Many early robots were simply mechanical clocks that performed tasks for human beings. Other early examples of automated devices included the Automatic Servant of Philon, a maid statue that performed tasks without human intervention. This machine used two air tubes and a spring mechanism to perform various tasks. Eventually, robotics became a popular concept for both commercial and personal use.
Humanoid robots were first introduced to the public in 1986. The Japanese company Honda Motor Company developed the P-1 humanoid robot, and it was widely regarded as a controversial invention at the time. Other similar projects were also in development. Today, the Vanderbilt University School of Engineering is currently working on a humanoid robot named ISAC. ISAC can interact with humans in a natural manner, and is expected to be used in everyday situations as a home care giver in the future.
The history of robotics can be traced back to the Ancient Greeks. According to Greek mythology, the god Hephaestus created mechanical servants. Eventually, the first programmable humanoid robot was created. Al-Jazari created a device that resembled four musicians playing a music-playing instrument on a boat on a lake. It had a programmable drum machine. Many automatons followed. Later, Leoanardo Da Vinci designed a humanoid automaton that wore a knight’s armor.