The Engineers Who Invented The 7 Robots That Shaped The Industry
We’re looking at the robots that led us here and the engineers behind them because the modern robotics business is a multi-faceted, dynamic force of development and innovation.
Joseph Engelberger, Unimate #001
Unimate not only pioneered robotics on automotive assembly lines but its founder, Joseph Engelberger, is widely regarded as the father of the robotics industry. Engelberger and American inventor George Devol collaborated on the prototype of an automated Programmed Article Transfer mechanism from 1956 to 1959. (a patent that Engelberger already had pending when he met Devol). Unimate #0001, the outcome, is widely regarded as the first industrial robot. Following its first adoption by General Motors, the arm revolutionised the manufacturing industry.
Victor Scheinman’s Stanford Arm
The Stanford Arm would build on Unimate’s roots and advance the vehicle assembly line further. The Stanford Arm was the first computer-controlled, electrically driven robotic arm, and it revolutionised the industrial robotics industry. Its six degrees of freedom and multi-programmable functionalities allowed it to swiftly integrate into the manufacturing line and branch out into additional jobs.
Victor Scheinman invented the Stanford Arm and later started Vicarm, Inc. in 1973 to further develop his innovation. He would collaborate with Unimate developers to build the Programmable Universal Machine for Assembly when his company was sold to Unimation (PUMA).
Ichiro Kato, WABOT-1
The world’s first full-scale android was created in 1972. The WABOT-1 was the outcome of Ichiro Kato’s 5-year effort, and it was able to walk with its legs, grip with its arms, and see with two cameras. The premise arose from the presence of a robot on an automated manufacturing line. It was developed following the assumption that because robots will be performing human tasks, they should analyse information and act on it in the same manner. While working, the humanoid result was able to speak in Japanese with a human and judge distances and orientations of things in its field of view.
WABOT-1 is a watershed moment in humanoid robot development, the point at which machines became communicative and “intelligent” in their most basic forms. Kato co-founded the initiative with Waseda University after dedicating himself to researching humanoid designs. The innovation undoubtedly aided in the social and cultural understanding and depiction of robots, resulting in improved acceptance and reduced fear at pivotal periods in the industry’s later development.
Satoshi Shigemi — ASIMO
ASIMO was the world’s most advanced humanoid robot at its construction. The ASIMO, on the other hand, was heavily publicised in the years after its debut. As a result, the Honda ASIMO robot has become a symbol for humanoid robotics over time, inspiring a slew of new advances and debates about the industry’s future and its relationship with people. Before ASIMO, robotic innovations were hidden behind lab walls and only a few trade shows. ASIMO’s international fame helped raise awareness and calm anxieties about the impending home robot revolution.
After the E-Series and P-Series of android research, Satoshi Shigemi was appointed project leader and senior engineer of the ASIMO project.
Joe Jones — Roomba
With his Roomba creation, Joe Jones brought robots into the home. Roomba, the first commercially successful residential cleaning robot, dazzled early customers with its array of sensors, which allowed it to precisely decide where and how to clean. Roomba’s forefathers were “Rug Warriors,” lego-built robots entered by Jones in the Robot Olympics in the 1980s, a far way from the final release in 2002 and certainly a long way from the connected, adaptive cleaners we have today. The Roomba was an early indicator of consumer readiness to invest in robotic technology for their homes, spawning many of the various robotic items we use today.
Dr. Martin Beuhler / BigDog — Marc Raibert
BigDog was built for the US Military to transport human soldiers through unsuitable terrain for wheels. BigDog’s real draw was its dynamic stabilisation capabilities, which allowed it to stay upright regardless of terrain complexity. It was capable of running at four mph and carrying 150kg of additional weight. Between 2005 and 2015, the project lasted ten years until BigDog was deemed too noisy to be employed in combat due to its petrol-powered engine.
BigDog became a cultural phenomenon during its development, boosting the social mind’s fascination with robotics. The subtler details of BigDog’s design, on the other hand, are what cement its position in history. In the few years since the project’s completion, its approach to kinetic design and dynamic balancing has spawned several advancements. Marc Raibert, the founder of Boston Dynamics, the company that created BigDog, is well-known for inventing the quadruped. Dr Martin Beuhler, the project’s leader, received the Robotic Industries Association’s Joseph F. Engelberger Award for his efforts.
David Hanson’s Sophia
While Sophia’s exact intelligence level is debatable, she is largely considered one of the most advanced examples of AI we’ve seen. Sophia put it front and centre if ASIMO and BigDog brought robotics to the public’s attention. Sophia’s striking similarity to actual humans and her purported intelligence drew a massive amount of media attention. Sophia, the first robot to be granted citizenship by a country, is likely to go down in robotics history as a watershed moment.