In the history of robotics, there have been 15 pivotal moments.
2018 National Robotics Week greetings! To commemorate the world’s attention to the industry we like, we’ve compiled a list of 18 pivotal occasions in robotics history to show how far we’ve gone!
1. Aristotle, 320 BCE
Aristotle, the Greek philosopher, is credited with the first recorded thoughts on automation:
Aristotle’s hypothetical suggestion touches on several contemporary concerns about the role of robots in the workplace. However, many people believe that his claims concerning the importance of automation in humans’ lives 2,300 years later are optimistic.
2. The Mechanical Knight by Leonardo Da Vinci, 1495
To take the next step toward robotic automation, we’d have to wait roughly 2,000 years. Years of anatomical research enabled Leonardo Da Vinci to devise blueprints for a humanoid automaton that resembled a mediaeval knight. The blueprints have since been developed into a working robot with an anatomically perfect mouth and movements ranging from standing, sitting, and moving its arms independently.
3. Henry Ford’s Assembly Line, 1913
While automatons were still being manufactured in the 18th and 19th centuries, our next defining event occurred when such development was made for the first time to further economic potential. Henry Ford’s assembly line revolutionised the automotive and manufacturing industries, two fields are still heavily reliant on robotics growth today. A Model T could be fully constructed in roughly 90 minutes for the first time. As a result, automation has gained acceptance in various production industries, opening the way for future robotics advances.
4. 1920: Karl Capek’s “Rossum’s Universal Robots.”
The word “robot” was first used by Rossum’s Universal Robots. The word was coined by Czech playwright Karl Capek to represent an army of humanoid machines that would eventually rule over the humans in his play. The name ‘robots’ comes from the Czech word ‘robot,’ which means ‘forced grunt work.’ Since their conception, robots have been associated with apprehensions about their potential!
5. 1932: Lilliput
For a long time, though, robots, as we know them now, were an unfathomable impossibility. The first toy robot was built in Japan in 1932, bringing the archetypal rigid, stocky look with which they’ve become synonymous. The Lilliput was a 15cm tall tin figure with a wind-up mechanism that allowed her to move.
6. Isaac Asimov’s “Runaround” was published in 1942.
Without many of us realising it, Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics have been deeply embedded in the popular mind. The safety-oriented guidelines were created for Asimov’s famed science fiction series to set a precedent for how robotic technology should be used by its designers. They constitute an underlying principle that serves as a warning against the misuse of technology by demonstrating the hazards of such technology in the villains of the stories.
7. 1950: The Turing Test
Alan Turing devised a test to determine whether a computer’s artificial intelligence is mature enough to think for itself, following his astounding achievements during World War 2. A laptop must hold a conversation indistinguishable from that of a person to pass.
8. Unimate (1954)
As computers and machines become increasingly common in the workplace, robotic development returns to the car industry for another watershed point in robotics history. Industrial robotics pioneers George Devol and Joe Engelberger designed the first programmed robot, later put to work on the General Motors assembly line in 1961. The machine, which has a programmable arm that allows it to do dangerous and repetitive jobs, is a first in industrial robotics.
9. Unimation, 1956
Engelberger and Devol founded Unimation, the first specialised robotics firm, based on the success of the Unimate robot. With Chrysler and Ford implementing Unimation technology into its facilities, the company would continue to innovate so that it would radically disrupt the landscape of the automotive manufacturing industry. The business would iterate on their initial Unimate design (Programmable Universal Machine for Assembly) to produce the PUMA.
10. 1966: Shakey
Experimentation and development of robotic technology continue, with new uses and requirements appearing. Shakey, the world’s first mobile robot, is developed at Stanford’s Artificial Intelligence Center. Shakey can see and understand its surroundings, and it can be operated by a computer, albeit one that takes up an entire room. Shakey symbolises the progress made toward mobile robots capable of traversing strange landscapes, which have proven crucial to our comprehension of other worlds.
11. 1979: The Stanford Cart
Shakey, the robot’s development continues as interest in mobile robotics grows. The Stanford Cart significantly enhances movement stability and includes a complete television camera for vision. Shakey’s successor navigates away among chairs and programmes its course to complete an obstacle course. It has become a watershed point, not just in robotics but also in artificial intelligence. With the level of intellect and ability we take for granted now becoming ever more possible in the eyes of the public, robotics begins to spread beyond industrial manufacture and science fantasy strangeness.
12. 1993: Dante
Over the next 20 years, robotics technology will continue to grow into new industries, with advancements allowing new varieties to be applied to various real-world scenarios. As a result, Carnegie University can begin deploying Dante, an eight-legged robot, into volcanic regions for research and exploration. The world ushers in a new era of inquiry and analysis as the potential for robotic exploration of potentially hazardous environments becomes readily apparent.
13. 1999: Sony Aibo
Sony marks the end of the century with a major release in consumer robotics, following their successful breakthrough into the entertainment and technology markets in the 1990s. The Sony Aibo is a robotic pet dog with the ability to learn and communicate. While Aibo is expensive ($2,000), it heralds a new age in consumer robotics and technology, with more affordable models arriving over the next decade. Sony’s early effort is responsible for the technological advancements and inspiration behind Christmas popular toys, including Teksta, Furby, and 2-XL. Robots are beginning to make their way into the homes of ordinary people, even though they are still far from reaching their full potential.
14. 2000: Honda ASIMO
Honda announced the culmination of decades of research and development on humanoid robotic aides in 2000. The ASIMO was a 4ft 3 walking and interacting robot with autonomous navigation and the ability to recognise objects, body language, faces, and sounds. The robotic fantasies of the previous century come true, and work on developing humanoid machines begins.
15. 2002: Roomba
With the introduction of iRobot’s Roomba, robots finally find their way into the home for good. The robotic vacuum cleaner demonstrates the public’s interest in and readiness to pay for helpful robot technology in the house. By 2008, the Roomba had established itself as the most commercially successful domestic robot in history, and the concept of a robot in the home had become commonplace.