Sabtu, 06 November 2010


A robot is a virtual or mechanical artificial agent. In practice, it is usually an electro-mechanical machine which is guided by computer or electronic programming, and is thus able to do tasks on its own. 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.


Building the robot of Leonardo da Vinci

Since the beginnings of civilisation man has had a fascination for a human-like creation that would assist him. Societies in the early part of the first millennium engaged in slavery and used those slaves to perform the tasks which were either dirty or menial labours. Having slaves freed the enslavers to carry on their society and concentrate on what they perceived as more important tasks such as business and politics. Man had discovered mechanics and the means of creating complex mechanisms which would perform repetitive functions such as waterwheels and pumps. Technological advances were slow but there were more complex machines, generally limited to a very small number, which performed more grandiose functions such as those invented by Hero of Alexandria.

In the first half of the second millennium man began to develop more complex machines as well as rediscovering the Greek engineering methods. Men such as Leonardo Da Vinci in 1495 through to Jacques de Vaucanson in 1739 have made plans for, and built, automata and robots leading to books of designs such as the Japanese Karakuri zui (Illustrated Machinery) in 1796. As mechanical techniques developed through the Industrial age we find more practical applications such as Nikola Tesla in 1898 who designed a radio-controlled torpedo and the Westinghouse Electric Corporation creation Televox in 1926. From here we find a more android development as designers tried to mimic more human-like features including designs such as those of biologist Makoto Nishimura in 1929 and his creation Gakutensoku, which cried and changed its facial expressions, and the more crude Elektro from Westinghouse in 1938.

Electronics now became the driving force of development instead of mechanics with the advent of the first electronic autonomous robots created by William Grey Walter in Bristol, England in 1948. The first digital and programmable robot was invented by George Devol in 1954 and was ultimately called the Unimate. Devol sold the first Unimate to General Motors in 1960 where it was used to lift pieces of hot metal from die casting machines in a plant in Trenton, New Jersey.

Since then we have seen robots finally reach a more true assimilation of all technologies to produce robots such as ASIMO which can walk and move like a human. Robots have replaced slaves in the assistance of performing those repetitive and dangerous tasks which humans prefer not to do or unable to do due to size limitations or even those such as in outer space or at the bottom of the sea where humans could not survive the extreme environments.

Robots come in those two basic forms: Those which are used to make or move things, such as Industrial robots or mobile or servicing robots and those which are used for research into human-like robots such as ASIMO and TOPIO as well as those into more defined and specific roles such as Nano robots and Swarm robots.

Man has developed a fear of the autonomous robot and how it may react in society, such as Shelley's Frankenstein and the EATR, and yet we still use robots in a wide variety of tasks such as vacuuming floors, mowing lawns, cleaning drains, investigating other planets, building cars, entertainment and in warfare.


DateSignificanceRobot nameInventor
1st century AD and earlierDescriptions of over a hundred machines and automata, including a fire engine, wind organ, coin-operated machine, and steam-powered aeliopile, in Pneumatica and Automata by Heron
Ctesibius, Philo, Heron, and others
1206Early programmable automataRobot bandAl-Jazari
c. 1495Designs for a humanoid robotMechanical knightLeonardo da Vinci
1738Mechanical duck that was able to eat, flap its wings, and excreteDigesting DuckJacques de Vaucanson
19th centuryJapanese mechanical toys that served tea, fired arrows, and paintedKarakuri toysHisashige Tanaka
1921First fictional automata called "robots" appear in the play R.U.R.Rossum's Universal RobotsKarel Čapek
1928Humanoid robot, based on a suit of armor with electrical actuators, exhibited at the annual exhibition of the Model Engineers Society in LondonEricW. H. Richards
1930sHumanoid robot exhibited at the 1939 and 1940 World's FairsElektroWestinghouse Electric Corporation
1948Simple robots exhibiting biological behaviors[118]Elsie and ElmerWilliam Grey Walter
1956First commercial robot, from the Unimation company founded by George Devol and Joseph Engelberger, based on Devol's patents[119]UnimateGeorge Devol
1961First installed industrial robotUnimateGeorge Devol
1963First palletizing robot[120]PalletizerFuji Yusoki Kogyo
1973First robot with six electromechanically driven axes[121]FamulusKUKA Robot Group
1975Programmable universal manipulation arm, a Unimation productPUMAVictor Scheinman

Source : Wikipedia

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