• ~270 AD an ancient Greek engineer named Ctesibus made organs and water clocks with movable figures.
  • ~50AD- In two works (Pneumatica and Automata) Heron of Alexandria describes many machines and automata (mainly from previous sources)
  • 1206- First programmable humanoid robot -- Al-Jazari
  • ~1495 -Early design of a humanoid robot -- Leonardo DaVinco
  • 1738 - Early automaton, a mechanical duck that was able to eat grain, flap its wings, and excrete.--Jacques de Vaucanson
  • 1818 - Mary Shelley wrote "Frankenstein" which was about a frightening artificial lifeform created by Dr. Frankenstein.
  • 1921 - The term "robot" was first used in a play called "R.U.R." or "Rossum's Universal Robots" by the Czech writer Karel Capek. The plot was simple: man makes robot then robot kills man!
  • 1930's-- Early humanoid robot. It was exhibited at the 1939 and 1940 World's Fairs-- Westinghouse Corp.
  • 1941 - Science fiction writer Isaac Asimov first used the word "robotics" to describe the technology of robots and predicted the rise of a powerful robot industry.
  • 1942 - Asimov wrote "Runaround", a story about robots which contained the "Three Laws of Robotics":
    • A robot may not injure a human, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
    • A robot must obey the orders it by human beings except where such orders would conflic with the First Law.
    • A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict withe the First or Second Law.
  • 1948 - "Cybernetics", an influence on artificial intelligence research was published by Norbert Wiener
  • 1954 --Patent submitted for first digitally controlled robot and first teachable robot, (U.S. Patent 2,988,237 ) -- George Devol
  • 1956 - George Devol and Joseph Engelberger formed the world's first robot company.
  • 1959 - Computer-assisted manufacturingg was demonstrated at the Servomechanisms Lab at MIT.
  • 1961 - The first industrial robot was online in a General Motors automobile factory in New Jersey. It was called UNIMATE.
  • 1963 - The first artificial robotic arm to be controlled by a computer was designed. The Rancho Arm was designed as a tool for the handicapped and it's six joints gave it the flexibility of a human arm.
  • 1965 - DENDRAL was the first expert system or program designed to execute the accumulated knowledge of subject experts.
  • 1968 - The octopus-like Tentacle Arm was developed by Marvin Minsky.
  • 1969 - The Stanford Arm was the first electrically powered, computer-controlled robot arm.
  • 1970 - Shakey was introduced as the first mobile robot controlled by artificial intellence. It was produced by SRI International.
  • 1974 - A robotic arm (the Silver Arm) that performed small-parts assembly using feedback from touch and pressure sensors was designed.
  • 1979 - The Standford Cart crossed a chair-filled room without human assistance. The cart had a tv camera mounted on a rail which took pictures from multiple angles and relayed them to a computer. The computer analyzed the distance between the cart and the obstacles.
  • 2000 - A humanoid robot that can recognize human faces, see stereoscopically, walk and run on different types of ground (including stairs), and respond (in words and in actions) to English and Japanese commands.

A History of Robots in Space





Basics -- Robotics

Robotics in Space

Robots in the Home

Robots in the Military

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