History of Robotics

 History of Robotics

People have been thinking about robots since ancient civilizations adopted myths and beliefs about "thinking machines" and invented the water clock. Robotics has evolved significantly since the time of the Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians, but its history is extensive. Here's a look at some of the most significant events in robotics history.


Jacques de Vaucanson creates the first biomechanical automaton on record in the 1700s (1737). The mechanical device, known as the Flute Player, plays 12 songs.


(1921): The term "robot" first appears in Karel Capek's play R.U.R. The term "robot" comes from the Czech word "robot," which means "forced labor."
Metropolis (1926) features the first film robot.
In the 1930s (1936), Alan Turing publishes "On Computable Numbers," a paper that introduces the concept of the Turing Machine, a theoretical computer.


In the 1930s (1936), Alan Turing publishes "On Computable Numbers," a paper that introduces the concept of the Turing Machine, a theoretical computer.


Norbert Wiener, an MIT professor, publishes Cybernetics or Control and Communication in the Animal in the 1940s (1948). The book discusses communication and control in electronic, mechanical, and biological systems.

(1949) Neurophysiologist and inventor William Grey Walter introduces Elmer and Elsie, a pair of battery-operated tortoise-like robots. The robots move objects, look for a source of light, and return to a charging station.


Isaac Asimov publishes The Three Laws of Robotics in the 1950s.

Alan Turing publishes "Computing Machinery and Intelligence" in 1950, proposing what is now known as the Turing Test, a method for determining whether or not a machine is intelligent.


1960s (1961): General Motors installs the first robotic arm. The arm lifts and stacks metal parts while following a 200-movement program. George Devol and his partner Joseph Engelberger designed the arm.

Victor Scheinman invents the Stanford Arm in 1969, a robotic arm with six joints that can mimic human arm movements. It was one of the first robots to be computer-controlled.


Shakey, the first robot to use artificial intelligence, is created by a group of engineers at the Stanford Research Institute in the 1970s (1972). Shakey completes tasks by observing its surroundings and devising a strategy. To plan its movements, the robot employs sensors, a rangefinder, and a touch-sensitive apparatus.

Hiroshi Makino, an automation researcher, creates a four-axis SCARA robotic arm in 1978. The arm, known as the first "pick and place" robot, is programmed to pick up an object, turn it, and place it in another location.


(1985) The PUMA 560 robotic surgical arm is used in the first documented use of a robot-assisted surgical procedure.

(1985) William Whittaker creates two remotely controlled robots for the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant. The robots survey the site, send back data, and drill core samples to measure radiation levels in the basement of the damaged reactor building.

Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control: A Robot Invasion of the Solar System is published by MIT researchers Rodney Brooks and A. M. Flynn in 1989. The paper argues that many small, inexpensive robots should be built rather than a few large, expensive ones.


(1990) iRobot, the company behind the Roomba vacuum cleaner, was founded by a group of MIT researchers.

Marc Raibert, another MIT researcher, establishes the robotics firm Boston Dynamics in 1992.

Sojourner lands on Mars in 1997. The roving rover transmits 2.3 billion bits of data back to Earth, including over 17,000 images, 15 chemical analyses of rocks and soil, and extensive weather data from Mars.

(1998) Tiger Electronics releases Furby, a robotic toy pet that eventually sells tens of millions of units. Furbys are preprogrammed to speak gibberish and gradually learn other languages.

(1999) The commercial release of Aibo, a robotic puppy powered by AI. Sony's robotic dog responds to sounds and has some pre-programmed behavior.


Cynthia Breazeal develops a robotic head that can both provoke and respond to emotions. Kismet, the robot, is made up of 21 motors, audio sensors, and algorithms that recognize the vocal tone.

(2000) Sony unveils the humanoid Sony Dream Robot, a bipedal humanoid entertainment robot that the company developed, marketed but never sold.

(2001) After September 11th, iRobot's PackBot searches the World Trade Center site.

iRobot develops Roomba in 2002. The vacuum robot was the first to gain popularity in the commercial sector among the general public.

The Kiva robot is invented in 2003 by Mick Mountz and the cofounders of Amazon Robotics (formerly Kiva Systems). The robot navigates warehouses and transports goods.

(2004) Boston Dynamics introduces BigDog, a human-controlled quadruped robot. Because it can only have two feet on the ground at a time, the robot is known for being more agile than previous iterations of robots. It has 50 sensors and an onboard computer that manages and stabilizes the gait.

(2004) The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency of the United States Department of Defense establishes the DARPA Grand Challenge. A self-driving car race designed to spur innovation in military autonomous vehicle technology.

(2005) The second DARPA Grand Challenge is won by Stanley, a Volkswagen Touareg. The car completes a 131.2-mile course in the Mojave Desert using AI trained on human driving habits and five lidar laser sensors.


(2011) NASA and General Motors team up to launch Robonaut 2, a human-like robotic assistant, into space aboard the space shuttle Discovery. The robot will live on the International Space Station indefinitely.

(2013) Boston Dynamics introduces Atlas, a humanoid biped robot with 28 hydraulic joints that can mimic human movements, including a backflip.

(2012) Nevada issues the first license for a self-driving car. The vehicle is a Toyota Prius that has been modified with Google technology.

(2014) As part of a social experiment, Canadian researchers create hitchBOT, a bot that hitches across Canada and Europe.

Hanson Robotics creates Sophia, dubbed the "first robot citizen," a humanoid robot. The robot can recognize faces, communicate verbally, and express itself through facial expressions.


(2020) Robots are used to distribute COVID-19 tests and vaccinations. 

(2020) 384,000 industrial robots are shipped across the globe to perform various manufacturing and warehouse jobs.  

(2021) Cruise, an autonomous car company, conducts its first two robotaxi test rides in San Francisco

Source - https://builtin.com/robotics


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