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Technological subjects


This bird was then suspended from a pivot bar and at one point the bird managed to fly as much ... six years before the Wright brothers ... The story is about a ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Technological subjects


History of Robotics
Introduction to Robotics
  1. History of Robotics

A robot is an automatically guided machine which
is able to do tasks on its own, almost always due
to electronically-programmed instructions.
Another common characteristic is that by its
appearance or movements, a robot often conveys a
sense that it has intent or agency of its
own. Courtesy of Wikipedia
350 BC The first known robot was created around
400-350 BC by the mathematician Archita and was a
steam powered pigeon.
Archita, who coincidently is known as the father
of mechanical engineering, constructed his bird
out of wood and used steam to power the movements
of the robot.   This bird was then suspended
from a pivot bar and at one point the bird
managed to fly as much as 200 meters before it
ran out of steam.  This is not only the first
known robot, but was also one of the first
recorded scientifically done studies of how birds
322 BC The Greek philosopher Aristotle
wrote If every tool, when ordered, or even of
its own accord, could do the work that befits
it... then there would be no need either of
apprentices for the master workers or of slaves
for the lords.
  • The first recorded reference to robots!

200BC The Greek inventor and physicist Ctesibus
of Alexandria designs water clocks that have
movable figures on them. Water clocks are a big
breakthrough for timepieces. Up until then the
Greeks used hour glasses that had to be turned
over after all the sand ran through. Ctesibus'
invention changed this because it measured time
as a result of the force of water falling through
it at a constant rate. In general, the Greeks
were fascinated with automata of all kinds often
using them in theatre productions and religious
62AD Heron from Alexandria was a Mathematician,
Physicist and Engineer who lived in 10-70 AD.
Known as Michanikos, the Machine Man, Heron
invented the world's first steam engine,
developed some sophisticated surveying tools, and
crafted handy gizmos like a self-trimming oil
lamp. Heron's clever inventions were
particularly notable for their incorporation of
the sorts of self-regulating feedback control
system. Like today's toilets, his
"inexhaustible goblet" regulated its own level
with a floating mechanism. But what really
excited Heron were novelties pneumatic gadgets,
automata, and magic theaters, one of which rolled
itself before the audience on its own power,
cranked through a miniature three-dimensional
performance, and then made its own exit.
Click on the picture above to see a YouTube clip
of Heros Engine shown above in operation.
  • 1495
  • Leonardo Da Vinci designs a mechanical device
    that looks like an armoured knight. The
    mechanisms inside "Leonardo's robot" are designed
    to make the knight move as if there was a real
    person inside. Inventors in medieval times often
    built machines like "Leonardo's robot" to amuse

Click on the picture above to see a YouTube clip
of more of Leonardos machines.
  • 1738
  • Jacques de Vaucanson begins building automata in
    Grenoble, France. He built three in all. His
    first was the flute player that could play twelve
    songs. This was closely followed by his second
    automaton that played a flute and a drum or
    tambourine, but by far his third was the most
    famous of them all.
  • The duck was an example of Vaucanson's attempt at
    what he called "moving anatomy", or modeling
    human or animal anatomy with mechanics." The duck
    moved, quacked, flapped it's wings and even ate
    and digested food.

1774 Pierre Jaquet-Droz was a Swiss watchmaker
of the late 18th century. He lived in Paris,
London, and Geneva, where he designed and built
animated dolls, or automata, to help his firm
sell watches and mechanical birds. Constructed
between 1768 and 1774 by Pierre Jaquet-Droz, his
son Henri-Louis, and Jean Frederic Leschot were
The Writer (made of 6000 pieces), The Musician
(2500 pieces) and The Draughtsman (2000 pieces).
His astonishing mechanisms fascinated the world's
most important people the kings and emperors of
Europe, China, India and Japan. Some consider
these devices to be the oldest examples of the
computer. The Writer has an input device to set
tabs that form a programmable memory, 40 cams
that represents the read only program, and a
quill pen for output. The work of Pierre
Jaquet-Droz predates that of Charles Babbage by
decades. The automata of Jaquet-Droz are also
considered to be some of the finest examples of
human mechanical problem solving. Three
particularly complex, and still working and
functional dolls are housed at the art and
history museum in Neuchâtel, Switzerland.
Click on the picture to see a YouTube clip of
more of the Jaquet-Droz Automota
LEcrivain (The Writer 1775) a unique
automaton and a true piece of art. Its
six-hundred-piece mechanism was extremely
complex, much more intricate than those of other
automata. It could be set to write any text of up
to forty letters or symbols on a smooth piece of
paper, as if on a typewriter.
1801 Joseph Marie Jacquard, a silk-weaver,
invented an improved textile loom. The Jacquard
loom was the first machine to use punched card.
These punched cards controlled the weaving,
enabling an ordinary workman to produce the most
beautiful patterns in a style previously
accomplished only with patience, skill, and hard
work. Click on the picture opposite to see a
YouTube clip of the loom in operation.
Jacquards work played an important role in the
development of the earliest programmable loom,
which in turn played an important role in the
development of other programmable machines, such
as computers.
1822 Charles Babbage, (1791 1871) was an
English mathematician, philosopher, inventor, and
mechanical engineer who originated the concept of
a programmable computer. In 1822 he demonstrates
a prototype of his "Difference Engine" to the
Royal Astronomical Society. He continued his work
by designing an even more ambitious project The
Analytical Engine" that reportedly was to use
punch cards inspired by Joseph Jacquard's
invention. However, during his lifetime he never
produced a functional version of either machine.
Despite this shortcoming he is often heralded as
the "Father of the Computer" and his work lives
on as the foundation for the binary numbering
system that is the basis of modern computers.
Click on the picture to see a YouTube clip the
Babbage Difference Engine No. 2 in operation.
In 1985 the London Science Museum launched a
project to build a complete Babbage Engine to
original designs to explore the practical
viability of Babbages schemes. The Engine chosen
was Babbages Difference Engine No. 2 designed
between 1847 and 1849. The calculating section of
the Engine, which weighs 2.6 tonnes and consists
of 4,000 separate parts, was completed and
working in November 1991, one month before the
200th anniversary of Babbage's birth.
1847 As the inventor of Boolean Algebra, the
basis of Boolean Logic and hence modern digital
computer logic, George Boole is regarded in
hindsight as a founder of the field of computer
science. Boole once said ... no general method
for the solution of questions in the theory of
probabilities can be established which does not
explicitly recognise ... those universal laws of
thought which are the basis of all
reasoning. Born in Lincolnshire, England he is
buried in Ballintemple, Co. Cork having served as
the first Professor of Mathematics in Queens
College Cork from 1849.
Click on the picture to see a YouTube clip on
George Boole and his impact on the world of
electronics and computing.
1898 Nikola Tesla, the legend of popular culture,
inventor of AC current, grandfather of radio,
radar and MRIs, invented and tested the world's
first remote control weapon in 1898. Today
cruise missiles, unmanned air vehicles (UAVs),
remote-control tracked vehicles and unmanned
underwater vehicles (UUVs) have revolutionized
the defense industry. These robotic warriors are
in daily use in Iraq, Afghanistan and other
places. Todays military gurus predict that
within a generation weaponized robots will
largely replace live pilots, sailors and soldiers
sent into harms' way on the battlefields of
tomorrow. Few of the play station generation that
will control these vehicles from afar know the
name of the man who in responsible for giving
birth to the automated warrior, Nikola Tesla
In 1898, six years before the Wright brothers
flew, Tesla designed and built a pair of radio
controlled boats. The craft were constructed of
iron, powered by a electric battery of his own
design, and equipped with a radio-mechanical
receiver that accepted commands from a wireless
transmitter. The boats were equipped with a large
whip antenna, a modular space that could carry a
charge, diving rudders, a prop and electric
running lights that could all be remotely
controlled. Tesla demonstrated the vessels to a
shocked crowd in an indoor pool at Madison Square
Garden in New York City. The crowd was amazed how
Tesla, always a showman, maneuvered his
six-foot-long boat in patterns through the water,
and then stopped and started the craft. He even
had the forethought to equip his boats with a
crude logic gate which prevented them from being
taken over by another transmitter other than his
own. The craft alarmed those in the crowd who saw
it and who claimed it to be everything from magic
and telepathy to being piloted by a trained
monkey hidden inside.
Click on the picture to see a very interesting
YouTube clip on the life and work of the genius
Nikola Tesla.
1921 R.U.R., often subtitled Rossum's Universal
Robots is a science fiction play in the Czech
language by Karel Capek. It premiered in 1921 and
is noted for introducing the term "robot". The
play begins in a factory that makes artificial
people called "robots." Unlike the modern usage
of the term, these creatures are closer to the
modern idea of androids or even clones, as they
can be mistaken for humans and can think for
themselves. They seem happy to work for humans,
although that changes and a hostile robot
rebellion leads to the extinction of the human
The word robot comes from the word robota meaning
literally serf labor, and, figuratively,
"drudgery" or "hard work" in Czech, Slovak and
Polish. While it is frequently thought that
Karel was the originator of the word, he wrote a
short letter in reference to an article in the
Oxford English Dictionary etymology in which he
named his brother, painter and writer Josef
Capek, as its actual inventor. Click on the
picture to see YouTube clip on the progression of
the humanoid robot since Capek introduced the
idea in 1921.
1926 Fritz Lang's movie "Metropolis" is
released. "Maria" the female robot in the film
is the first robot to be projected on the silver
screen. Click on the picture to see a YouTube
restored trailer for the original film.
1936 Alan Mathison Turing was an English
mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst and
computer scientist. He was highly influential in
the development of computer science, providing a
formalisation of the concept of the algorithm and
computation with the Turing machine, which played
a significant role in the creation of the modern
computer. Turing machines, first described by
him in 1936, are simple abstract computational
devices intended to help investigate the extent
and limitations of what can be computed. Turing,
writing before the invention of the modern
digital computer, was interested in the question
of what it means to be computable. A task is
computable if one can specify a sequence of
instructions which when followed will result in
the completion of the task. Such a set of
instructions is called an effective procedure, or
algorithm, for the task.
Click on the picture to see a short YouTube video
on Alan M Turing. Note the reference to the
Apple logo.
  • 1940
  • Issac Asimov produces a series of short stories
    about robots starting with "A Strange Playfellow"
    (later renamed "Robbie") for Super Science
    Stories magazine. The story is about a robot and
    its affection for a child that it is bound to
    protect. Over the next 10 years he produces more
    stories about robots that are eventually
    recompiled into the volume "I, Robot" in
    1950. Asimov is generally credited with the
    popularization of the term "Robotics" which was
    first mentioned in his story "Runaround" in 1942.
    Issac Asimov's most important contribution to the
    history of the robot is the creation of his Three
    Laws of Robotics
  • 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 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.

Click on the picture of the 1st edition cover
above to see a short YouTube video on Asimov.
1950 Alan Turing publishes Computing Machinery
and Intelligence in which he proposes a test to
determine whether or not a machine has gained the
power to think for itself. It becomes known as
the "Turing Test". The Turing test is a test of
a machine's ability to exhibit intelligent
behavior. A human judge engages in a natural
language conversation with one human and one
machine, each of which tries to appear human. All
participants are separated from one another. If
the judge cannot reliably tell the machine from
the human, the machine is said to have passed the
test. In order to test the machine's intelligence
rather than its ability to render words into
audio, the conversation is limited to a text-only
channel such as a computer keyboard and screen.
Click on the picture above to see a YouTube
discussion between Daniel Dennett and Roger
Bingham on the merits of the Turing Test
1960 The first industrial arm robot - the Unimate
- is introduced. It is designed to complete
repetitive or dangerous tasks on a General Motors
assembly line. Unimate was the first industrial
robot, which worked on a General Motors assembly
line in New Jersey, in 1961. It was created by
George Devol in the 1950s using his original
patents. Devol, together with Joseph Engelberger,
started Unimation the world's first robot
manufacturing company. The machine undertook the
job of transporting die castings from an assembly
line and welding these parts on auto bodiesa
dangerous task for workers, who might be poisoned
by exhaust gas or lose a limb if they were not
Click on the picture above to see a rare YouTube
clip from 1960 of the US Tonight Show hosted by
Johnny Carson. Carson introduces Joseph
Engelberger who demonstrates the Unimate which is
programmed using lead through technique.
1966 The Stanford Research Institute (later to be
known as SRI Technology) creates Shakey the first
mobile robot to know and react to its own
actions. Shakey the Robot was the first
general-purpose mobile robot to be able to reason
about its own actions. While other robots would
have to be instructed on each individual step of
completing a larger task, Shakey could analyze
the command and break it down into basic chunks
by itself. Due to its nature, the project
combined research in robotics, computer vision,
and natural language processing. Because of
this, it was the first project that melded
logical reasoning and physical action.
Click on the picture of Shakey above to see a
YouTube clip explaining its place in the robot
hall of fame.
1969 Victor Scheinman, a Mechanical Engineering
student working in the Stanford Artificial
Intelligence Lab (SAIL) creates the Stanford Arm.
The arm's design becomes a standard and is still
influencing the design of robot arms today.
Click on the picture above to see a YouTube clip
explaining the history of computers and their
role in robotics.
1977 Star Wars is released. George Lucas' movie
about a universe governed by the force introduces
watchers to R2-D2 and C-3PO. The movie creates
the strongest image of a human future with robots
since the 1960's and inspires a generation of
researchers. Click on the picture alongside to
see a YouTube clip featuring the original trailer
from the movie.
1986 Honda begins a robot research program thats
starts with the premise that the robot "should
coexist and cooperate with human beings, by doing
what a person cannot do and by cultivating a new
dimension in mobility to ultimately benefit
Click on the picture of the evolution of Hondas
most advanced robot Asimov above to access the
Honda YouTube channel.
1989 A walking robot named Genghis is unveiled by
the Mobile Robots Group at MIT. It becomes known
for the way it walks, popularly referred to as
the "Genghis gait". Genghis was built at MIT to
demonstrate the efficacy of using numerous small,
light, mobile robots to explore the Martian
Click on the picture of Genghis above to see a
YouTube clip of its first steps.
1996 Honda debuts the P3, shown second from right
above, the fruit of its decade long effort to
build a humanoid robot. The P-series is a
chronological progression of prototype humanoid
robots as developed by Honda. The research
conducted allowed the eventual creation of ASIMO,
pictured last on the right above. Click on the
picture above to see a YouTube clip of the P3 in
1997 The NASA Pathfinder Mission lands on Mars.
Its robotic rover Sojourner, rolls down a ramp
and onto Martian soil in early July. It broadcast
data from the Martian surface until
September. After a few days on the Martian
surface the NASA controllers turned on
Sojourner's hazard avoidance system and asked it
to start making some of its own decisions. This
hazard avoidance system set the rover apart from
all other machines that have explored space.
Sojourner made trips between designated points
without the benefit of detailed information to
warn it of obstacles along the way.
Click on the picture above to see an animated
YouTube clip of the NASA Pathfinder Mission.
1998 Tiger Electronics introduces the Furby into
the Christmas toy market. It quickly becomes
"the toy" to get for the season. Using a variety
of sensors this "animatronic pet" can react to
its environment and communicate using over 800
phrases in English and their own language
Click on the picture above to see one of the
first Furby commercials.
1998 LEGO releases their first Robotics
Invention SystemTM 1.0. LEGO names the product
line MINDSTORMS after Seymour Papert's seminal
work Mindstorms Children, Computers, and
Powerful Ideas published in 1980. In this book
Papert advocates constructionism, or learning
through doing.
Click on the picture above to see a clip from a
special pre-release CD-ROM entitled "explore
invent master" which was released as a teaser for
the Lego Mindstorms series.
2000 Honda debuts the 12th version, since 1986,
of its humanoid robot - ASIMO. The name is an
acronym for "Advanced Step in Innovative
MObility rather than a reference to Isaac
Asimov. The robot has 7 DOF (Degrees of freedom)
in each arm two joints of 3 DOF, shoulder and
wrist, giving "Six degrees of freedom" and 1 DOF
at the elbow 6 DOF in each leg 3 DOF at the
crotch, 2 DOF at the ankle and 1 DOF at the knee
and 3 DOF in the neck joint. The hands have 2
DOF 1 DOF in each thumb and 1 in each finger.
This gives a total of 34 DOF in all joints
Click on the picture above to see a clip of Asimo
in action,
2001 In August, the FDA clears the CyberKnife to
treat tumours anywhere in the body. The
CyberKnife system is a method of delivering
radiotherapy, with the intention of targeting
treatment more accurately than standard
radiotherapy. Over 150 centres, featuring several
generations of equipment, offer treatment around
the world.
Click on the picture above to see a the
CyberKnife Patient Education Video
2004 Jan 4th - The NASA robot rover Spirit lands
on Mars. Jan 23rd - The second rover -
Opportunity safely lands on the Meridium Planum
on Mars. NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Mission
(MER) is an ongoing robotic space mission
involving the two rovers. The mission's
scientific objective was to search for and
characterise a wide range of rocks and soils that
hold clues to past water activity on Mars.
Click on the picture above to see a short video
explaining the NASA Mars Exploration Rover
2007 Since 2006, awards have been given by
Japans Ministry of Economy, Trade Industry for
Robot of the Year. The 2007 winner was the
work-horse, industrial robot from Fanuc Ltd.
called M-430iA. This multi-axis, greaseless
(and therefore sanitary) robot is part of a food
and pharmaceutical handling system. This robot
can work non-stop, 24 hours a day, accurately
picking up 120 items per minute as they roll down
a conveyor belt. It employs the rapidly
developing technology of Machine Vision to pick
the items regardless of their position on the
Click on the picture above to see a short video
of the M-430iA in action.
2008 The 2008 winner was the Takara Tomys
Omnibot 17µ i-SOBOT. The i-SOBOT is the worlds
smallest humanoid thats aimed at a mass market.
The Japanese government praised its low price of
around 350 and its advanced technology.
Click on the picture above to see a short video
of the i-SOBOT in action.
Click on the picture to see a short video of the
Japan Robot Show 2009.
2009 The 2009 winner was the Omni Zero 1000
transformer robot. The Omni Zero 1000 can walk
and turn itself into a car and roll along the
floor. Originally made for Robot One, a robot
competition held twice a year, the robot can also
transform itself into various shapes. When in
walking mode, the robot can open its head section
to reveal a seat and carry a human occupant or
more often its creator Takeshi Maeda.
Click on the picture to see a short video of the
2010 Robot Review.
2010 What does the future hold for robotics? The
general trend for computers seems to be faster
processing speed, greater memory capacity and so
on. One would assume that the robots of the
future would become closer and closer to the
decision-making ability of humans and also more
independent. Presently the most powerful
computers can't match the mental ability of a
low-grade animal. It will be a long time until
we're having conversations with androids and have
them do all our housework. Another difficult
design aspect about androids is their ability to
walk around on two legs like humans. A robot with
biped movement is much more difficult to build
then a robot with, say, wheels to move around
with. The reason for this is that walking takes
so much balance. When you lift your leg to take a
step you instinctively shift your weight to the
other side by just the right amount and are
constantly alternating your centre of gravity to
compensate for the varying degrees of leg
support. If you were to simply lift your leg
with the rest of your body remaining perfectly
still you would likely fall down. Try a simple
test by standing with one shoulder and one leg
against a wall. Now lift your outer leg and
observe as you start to fall over !