The brief history of robot | RedEngine

The term “robot” which we know today indicates some sort of mechanical body. The history of such a mechanical body is very old. It started in Greek times. But those were manipulation of mechanical design. They did not have electronic parts at all or were limited to very little. The picture we can imagine after listening to the term robot has its starting from coining of the term ‘robot’. The term robot came from the Czech word ‘Robota’ which means a slave or forced laborer. This term was first used in the play “R.U.R” or “Rossum’s Universal Robots” by Czech writer ‘Karel Capek’ in 1921. At that time no such robot was present. Companies were trying to come up with something new.

Then Westinghouse Electric Corporation built a robot, “Elektro” in the years between 1937 and 1938. He was a 7 feet, 120.2 kg, humanoid robot. He was able to walk on voice command, speak about 700 words, smoke cigarettes. At present, he is kept in Mansfield Memorial Museum.

The term “robotics” also has its birth in literature. It was in the year 1941, when a Russian-born, American author, and science fiction writer Isaac Asimov coined the term “robotics” in his science fiction story Runaround. He then in 1942 presented 3 laws of robotics for human safety from robots. Till now no such robot which was sufficiently efficient was present. The earliest robot which is quite similar to modern robots that are reprogrammable was invented by George C, Devol. He patented this reprogrammable manipulator called ‘Unimate’. He attempted to sell his product in the industry, it was not a success. Then in the 1960s a businessman/engineer Joseph Engleberger acquired the patent of Devol and modified it. He was able to make it a commercial product for the industry by certain modifications. In 1956, Joseph Engelberger started the first robotics company by the name Unimation. For his efforts and successes to commercialize this he came to be known as ‘Father of Robotics.’

In 1968, a research team led by Charles Rosen developed Shakey at Stanford Research Institute. Shakey was more advanced than the original Unimate. Shakey was able to move around the room, observe the scene with his television eyes, and to some extent respond to the environment.    

In 1970, Victor Scheinman demonstrated a manipulator known as Stanford Arm. It was an industrial robot with six degrees of freedom. The Stanford arm was a serial manipulator.

Then in 1973, Ichiro Kato developed an anthropomorphic robot, Wabot. It had a limb and vision system. Then in the year 1980, the same group who developed Wabot 1 started to work on a new project. And in 1984 they unveiled Wabot 2. It was a humanoid robot with 50- degrees-of-freedom that was able to read musical notes. It was able to play the piano faster than the professional piano player.

In 1975 Raibart at Carnegie Mellon University, USA, built the first one-legged hopping machine. It was the first dynamically stable machine. And Raibart is known as the Father of multi-legged robots. In 1978, the first robotics company, Unimation developed PUMA(Programmable Universal Machine for Assembly). The current version of PUMA has 6 degrees of freedom and it is used in various industrial applications.  

 In 1997, NASA, USA developed intelligent robots such as Pathfinder and Sojourner and was sent to Mars, but it was a failure. In 2000, Honda developed a Humanoid robot, ASIMO. IN 2004, the surface of Mars was explored by Spirit and Opportunity. In 2012, Curiosity was sent by NASA to Mars. In 2015, Sophia was built by Hanson Robotics, Hong Kong.


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