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History of Robotics
Transcript of History of Robotics
Myths, legends, and accounts of mechanical humanoids and robots have existed as far back as before the first century BC, but perhaps the earliest known ‘working’ and authenticated robot was Leonardo Da Vinci’s robot knight. It was a humanoid machine designed around 1495, and operated by using a series of pulleys and cables. It had the ability to sit, stand, raise its visor stand and manoeuvre its arms. The first fully digital robot, however would come much later.
Leonardo Da Vinci's Robot Knight
The Industrial Revolution: 1760-1830
From the 1500’s until the 1800’s many automatons such as Leonardo’s knight were constructed which could act, draw, write, fly, and play music.
However, it was only in the early 1800’s when the concept of modern robots became a real possibility, when the Industrial Revolution allowed use of more complex mechanics and additionally, the use of electricity made it possible to power machines with relatively small motors.
Beginnings of Modern Robots
During the early 1900's, remote control devices were present and were being used to control torpedoes. This is a small but important step towards building fully autonomous robots. In 1861, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was founded. Since then they have made a significant impact on the history of robotics.
But it was only in the early 1900’s when the idea of robotics was developed and researched to the point where it was possible to create robots with simple capabilities. It was at this time when the word "robot" was first coined. At this time the stereotypical “robot” was a domestic humanoid that could walk, talk, and do chores.
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The World's First Robots
1928: Eric: Remotely controlled humanoid robot based on a suit of armor with electrical actuators is displayed at the exhibition of the Model Engineers Society in London.
1940: Elektro: Remotely controlled humanoid robot, created by Westinghouse is exhibited at the World Fair twice.
1956:First industrial commercial robot, from the Unimation company. Unimate was the first digital and programmable robot to be made.
His science-fiction and popular-science works have been very successful. He was considered to be one of the ‘Big Three’ science-fiction writers of his time and is best known to the robotics industry for his creation of the Three Laws of Robotics. Asimov created these laws in 1942 in the story ‘Runaround’.
Dr Isaac Asimov was an American Jewish author and biochemist, born in Russia in 1920.
Isaac Asimov (1920-1992)
Laws of Robotics
Isaac Asimov predicted that in the future robots would become common. He decided that moral issues would arise if robots could eventually acquire the ability to harm humans. He decided to create three laws that, in the future could be hard-wired into every robot in order to protect humanity. Later, he added another law, which he named the zeroth law.
A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.
A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
Tesla is credited to the invention of the tesla coil, remote control, induction motor, neon lamp, alternating current and wireless telegraphy. In 1896 Nikola Tesla conducted several experiments relating to radio waves. In 1898, Tesla demonstrated a radio controlled boat to a public audience. And so, Tesla is best known to the robotics industry for his invention of radio. However, it was only until WWI when the military took interest in Tesla's idea.
Nikola Tesla was a Serbian-born American inventor, physicist, and engineer, born in 1856.
Alan Turing was a British mathematician, logician, cyrptanalyst and computer scientist, born in 1912.
Turing is considered as the father of computer science and artificial intelligence (AI). For much of his life he worked as a cryptanalyst, but to the robotics industry he is remembered for the invention of the Turing test, a universal test which determines the intelligence of a computer or AI.
Alan Turing (1912-1954)
Victor Scheinman is a robotics pioneer who is chiefly responsible for the design of the Stanford Arm. The Stanford Arm was a 6 degree of freedom electric mechanical manipulator arm, designed by Scheinman in 1969. At the time Scheinman was working as a Mechanical Engineering student in the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab (also known as SAIL). The Stanford arm was one of the first robots designed for only computer control.
Dr Yik San Kwoh is the director of research in the radiology department at the Long Beach Memorial Medical Center. He is responsible for the invention of the PUMA 200, a robotic arm which has successfully performed several surgeries. ''The robotic arm is safer, faster and far less invasive than current surgical procedures,'' said the robot's creator, Dr Kwoh.
Dr Yik San Kwoh
Kwoh's robot thus far allows surgeons to His robot is extremely accurate, being able to locate points in the brain to within one two-thousandths of an inch. This accuracy reduces trauma to the brain, eliminates the need for general anesthesia, and leaves patients able to recover from surgery much faster.
How have robots developed over time?
Tesla's Remote Control Boat
Robots have been written about since 200 BC, and robots have developed immensely since then, mainly due to major advancements in computer hardware and software, including the microprocessor and transistor. From 200 BC to the early 1800's little was known of electricity, so the earliest "robots" were mechanical automatons, made up of physical components. It was only in the 1950's when real robot development took off, when major advancements were made in computer technology.
Science fiction stories, plays, and shows have also shaped the development of robotics immensely. Karel Čapek's play for example, "Rossum's Universal Robots" created in 1920 was hugely influential and introduced the world to the word "robot".
Now, robots are very complex, are much more accessible to the public, are commonly used in factories for repetitive work, can be very small (thanks to the microprocessor), and are used to explore regions of space and inhospitable areas. Because of this, robots can be classed into many different groups (educational, domestic, military, exploration, mobile and stationary).
How are Robots used in society today?
Today robots are used mainly in industry to complete dangerous, repetitive, boring, or dirty tasks that would cost more for humans to do. Robots are especially suited to these jobs as they do not get tired, have any feelings, are much more accurate and do not get distracted.
Robots are also especially useful in exploration as robots do not need oxygen to survive, and can have a range of sensors equipped. Increasingly, semi-autonomous robots have been used in the military as surveillance systems and combat. Robots are also used for domestic use, as toys or around the house. An example of this is the Roomba, an autonomous vacuum.
How Exploration Robots are Used
Exploration robots are commonly used to explore or investigate regions that are too dangerous or hazardous for humans. This includes in water, air, underground, hazardous urban areas, volcanoes, and space.
Exploratory robots are used in situations where humans would otherwise be put at risk or it is cheaper or more efficient to use a robot. Exploratory robots are mainly used for research purposes, such as collecting data or photographs.
An example of a very succesful exploratory robot is the Curiosity Mars Rover. It was launched in November 2011 and landed in August 2012. It is still operational and has been collecting data for over a year now.
Impact of Robotics on Society
Reduce risk of injury or loss of life
Reduce human error
Receive more accurate data
Robots can access remote locations
Robots are often tougher and stronger than humans
Robots do not have emotions
Robots can be designed especially for their environment
Robots do not need food, water, sleep, or recreation time
Robots are replaceable
Exploratory robots are especially useful as they can complete many tasks better than humans. Robots can equip an array of accurate sensors, can carry their own power supply in the form of batteries, solar panels and various generators. In addition, a robot can operate non-stop and is less likely to make mistakes or errors, like a human would.
Robots are very expensive to create
Robots require a lot of planning, building and coding
Robots can often fail (for example, the Spirit Rover which was stuck in low-traction soil)
Robots cannot operate forever
Robots are susceptible to weather
The Bethnic Rover
The Bethnic Rover is a deep-sea robot that is able to move along the ocean floor, taking measurements and recording data as it moves. The robot can measure carbon dioxide and oxygen levels, biological presences and chlorophyll in plants.
All of these measurements help scientists to better understand the carbon cycle and how carbon is used by animals and plants. The rover can stay underwater for longer than 9 months, slowly analyzing the sea floor.
NASA and other space agencies have planned a range of Mars rovers, satellites and probes:
2018 - ESA's plan to launch its first rover to Mars, capable of drilling 2m into the soil to search for organic molecules.
2020 - An unnamed NASA rover mission to Mars
In the future, more robots like Curiosity will emerge with more scientific equipment, processing power and speed. Robots will most likely be able to solve more complex problems and navigate more independently. Remote control will probably be used less, and more nano-robots will be used as the microchip becomes smaller.