History of robots

 

History of robots

The idea of automata originates in the mythologies of many cultures around the world. Engineers and inventors from ancient civilizations, including Ancient China,[12] Ancient Greece, and Ptolemaic Egypt,[13] attempted to build self-operating machines, some resembling animals and humans. Early descriptions of automata include the artificial doves of Archytas,[14] the artificial birds of Mozi and Lu Ban,[15] a "speaking" automaton by Hero of Alexandria, a washstand automaton by Philo of Byzantium, and a human automaton described in the Lie Zi.[12] Early beginnings Many ancient mythologies, and most modern religions include artificial people, such as the mechanical servants built by the Greek god Hephaestus[16] (Vulcan to the Romans), the clay golems of Jewish legend and clay giants of Norse legend, and Galatea, the mythical statue of Pygmalion that came to life. Since circa 400 BC, myths of Crete include Talos, a man of bronze who guarded the Cretan island of Europa from pirates. Washstand automaton reconstruction, as described by Philo of Byzantium (Greece, 3rd century BC). In ancient Greece, the Greek engineer Ctesibius (c. 270 BC) "applied a knowledge of pneumatics and hydraulics to produce the first organ and water clocks with moving figures."[17][18] In the 4th century BC, the Greek mathematician Archytas of Tarentum postulated a mechanical steam-operated bird he called "The Pigeon". Hero of Alexandria (10–70 AD), a Greek mathematician and inventor, created numerous user-configurable automated devices, and described machines powered by air pressure, steam and water.[19] Al-Jazari's toy boat, musical automata The 11th century Lokapannatti tells of how the Buddha's relics were protected by mechanical robots (bhuta vahana yanta), from the kingdom of Roma visaya (Rome); until they were disarmed by King Ashoka. [20] [21] In ancient China, the 3rd century text of the Lie Zi describes an account of humanoid automata, involving a much earlier encounter between Chinese emperor King Mu of Zhou and a mechanical engineer known as Yan Shi, an 'artificer'. Yan Shi proudly presented the king with a life-size, human-shaped figure of his mechanical 'handiwork' made of leather, wood, and artificial organs.[12] There are also accounts of flying automata in the Han Fei Zi and other texts, which attributes the 5th century BC Mohist philosopher Mozi and his contemporary Lu Ban with the invention of artificial wooden birds (ma yuan) that could successfully fly.[15] In 1066, the Chinese inventor Su Song built a water clock in the form of a tower which featured mechanical figurines which chimed the hours. Su Song's astronomical clock tower showing the mechanical figurines which chimed the hours. The beginning of automata is associated with the invention of early Su Song's astronomical clock tower featured mechanical figurines that chimed the hours.[22][23][24] His mechanism had a programmable drum machine with pegs (cams) that bumped into little levers that operated percussion instruments. The drummer could be made to play different rhythms and different drum patterns by moving the pegs to different locations.[24] In Renaissance Italy, Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) sketched plans for a humanoid robot around 1495. Da Vinci's notebooks, rediscovered in the 1950s, contained detailed drawings of a mechanical knight now known as Leonardo's robot, able to sit up, wave its arms and move its head and jaw.[25] The design was probably based on anatomical research recorded in his Vitruvian Man. It is not known whether he attempted to build it. In Japan, complex animal and human automata were built between the 17th to 19th centuries, with many described in the 18th century Karakuri zui (Illustrated Machinery, 1796). One such automaton was the karakuri ningyō, a mechanized puppet.[26] Different variations of the karakuri existed: the Butai karakuri, which were used in theatre, the Zashiki karakuri, which were small and used in homes, and the Dashi karakuri which were used in religious festivals, where the puppets were used to perform reenactments of traditional myths and legends. In France, between 1738 and 1739, Jacques de Vaucanson exhibited several life-sized automatons: a flute player, a pipe player and a duck. The mechanical duck could flap its wings, crane its neck, and swallow food from the exhibitor's hand, and it gave the illusion of digesting its food by excreting matter stored in a hidden compartment.[27] Remote-controlled systems The Brennan torpedo, one of the earliest 'guided missiles' Remotely operated vehicles were demonstrated in the late 19th Century in the form of several types of remotely controlled torpedoes. The early 1870s saw remotely controlled torpedoes by John Ericsson (pneumatic), John Louis Lay (electric wire guided), and Victor von Scheliha (electric wire guided).[28] The Brennan torpedo, invented by Louis Brennan in 1877 was powered by two contra-rotating propellors that were spun by rapidly pulling out wires from drums wound inside the torpedo. Differential speed on the wires connected to the shore station allowed the torpedo to be guided to its target, making it "the world's first practical guided missile".[29] In 1897 the British inventor Ernest Wilson was granted a patent for a torpedo remotely controlled by "Hertzian" (radio) waves[30][31] and in 1898 Nikola Tesla publicly demonstrated a wireless-controlled torpedo that he hoped to sell to the US Navy.[32][33] Archibald Low, known as the "father of radio guidance systems" for his pioneering work on guided rockets and planes during the First World War. In 1917, he demonstrated a remote controlled aircraft to the Royal Flying Corps and in the same year built the first wire-guided rocket. Origin of the term 'robot' Czech writer Karel Čapek — first user of the term 'robot' 'Robot' was first applied as a term for artificial automata in a 1920 play R.U.R. by the Czech writer, Karel Čapek. However, Josef Čapek was named by his brother Karel as the true inventor of the term robot.[4][5] The word 'robot' itself was not new, having been in Slavic language as robota (forced laborer), a term which classified those peasants obligated to compulsory service under the feudal system widespread in 19th century Europe (see: Robot Patent).[34] Čapek's fictional story postulated the technological creation of artificial human bodies without souls, and the old theme of the feudal robota class eloquently fit the imagination of a new class of manufactured, artificial workers. Early robots In 1928, one of the first humanoid robots was exhibited at the annual exhibition of the Model Engineers Society in London. Invented by W. H. Richards, the robot Eric's frame consisted of an aluminium body of armour with eleven electromagnets and one motor powered by a twelve-volt power source. The robot could move its hands and head and could be controlled through remote control or voice control.[35] Westinghouse Electric Corporation built Televox in 1926; it was a cardboard cutout connected to various devices which users could turn on and off. In 1939, the humanoid robot known as Elektro was debuted at the 1939 New York World's Fair.[36][37] Seven feet tall (2.1 m) and weighing 265 pounds (120.2 kg), it could walk by voice command, speak about 700 words (using a 78-rpm record player), smoke cigarettes, blow up balloons, and move its head and arms. The body consisted of a steel gear, cam and motor skeleton covered by an aluminum skin. In 1928, Japan's first robot, Gakutensoku, was designed and constructed by biologist Makoto Nishimura. Modern autonomous robots The first electronic autonomous robots with complex behaviour were created by William Grey Walter of the Burden Neurological Institute at Bristol, England in 1948 and 1949. He wanted to prove that rich connections between a small number of brain cells could give rise to very complex behaviors - essentially that the secret of how the brain worked lay in how it was wired up. His first robots, named Elmer and Elsie, were constructed between 1948 and 1949 and were often described as tortoises due to their shape and slow rate of movement. The three-wheeled tortoise robots were capable of phototaxis, by which they could find their way to a recharging station when they ran low on battery power. Walter stressed the importance of using purely analogue electronics to simulate brain processes at a time when his contemporaries such as Alan Turing and John von Neumann were all turning towards a view of mental processes in terms of digital computation. His work inspired subsequent generations of robotics researchers such as Rodney Brooks, Hans Moravec and Mark Tilden. Modern incarnations of Walter's turtles may be found in the form of BEAM robotics.[38] U.S. Patent 2,988,237, issued in 1961 to Devol. The first digitally operated and programmable robot was invented by George Devol in 1954 and was ultimately called the Unimate. This ultimately laid the foundations of the modern robotics industry.[39] Devol sold the first Unimate to General Motors in 1960, and it was installed in 1961 in a plant in Trenton, New Jersey to lift hot pieces of metal from a die casting machine and stack them.[40] Devol's patent for the first digitally operated programmable robotic arm represents the foundation of the modern robotics industry.[41] The first palletizing robot was introduced in 1963 by the Fuji Yusoki Kogyo Company.[42] In 1973, a robot with six electromechanically driven axes was patented[43][44][45] by KUKA robotics in Germany, and the programmable universal manipulation arm was invented by Victor Scheinman in 1976, and the design was sold to Unimation. Commercial and industrial robots are now in widespread use performing jobs more cheaply or with greater accuracy and reliability than humans. They are also employed for jobs which are too dirty, dangerous or dull to be suitable for humans. Robots are widely used in manufacturing, assembly and packing, transport, earth and space exploration, surgery, weaponry, laboratory research, and mass production of consumer and industrial goods.[46] Future development and trends External video Atlas, The Next Generation Further information: Future of robotics Various techniques have emerged to develop the science of robotics and robots. One method is evolutionary robotics, in which a number of differing robots are submitted to tests. Those which perform best are used as a model to create a subsequent "generation" of robots. Another method is developmental robotics, which tracks changes and development within a single robot in the areas of problem-solving and other functions. Another new type of robot is just recently introduced which acts both as a smartphone and robot and is named RoboHon.[47] As robots become more advanced, eventually there may be a standard computer operating system designed mainly for robots. Robot Operating System is an open-source set of programs being developed at Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Technical University of Munich, Germany, among others. ROS provides ways to program a robot's navigation and limbs regardless of the specific hardware involved. It also provides high-level commands for items like image recognition and even opening doors. When ROS boots up on a robot's computer, it would obtain data on attributes such as the length and movement of robots' limbs. It would relay this data to higher-level algorithms. Microsoft is also developing a "Windows for robots" system with its Robotics Developer Studio, which has been available since 2007.[48] Japan hopes to have full-scale commercialization of service robots by 2025. Much technological research in Japan is led by Japanese government agencies, particularly the Trade Ministry.[49] Many future applications of robotics seem obvious to people, even though they are well beyond the capabilities of robots available at the time of the prediction.[50][51] As early as 1982 people were confident that someday robots would:[52] 1. clean parts by removing molding flash 2. spray paint automobiles with absolutely no human presence 3. pack things in boxes—for example, orient and nest chocolate candies in candy boxes 4. make electrical cable harness 5. load trucks with boxes—a packing problem 6. handle soft goods, such as garments and shoes 7. shear sheep 8. prosthesis 9. cook fast food and work in other service industries 10. household robot. Generally such predictions are overly optimistic in timescale. New functionalities and prototypes In 2008, Caterpillar Inc. developed a dump truck which can drive itself without any human operator.[53] Many analysts believe that self-driving trucks may eventually revolutionize logistics.[54] By 2014, Caterpillar had a self-driving dump truck which is expected to greatly change the process of mining. In 2015, these Caterpillar trucks were actively used in mining operations in Australia by the mining company Rio Tinto Coal Australia.[55][56][57][58] Some analysts believe that within the next few decades, most trucks will be self-driving.[59] A literate or 'reading robot' named Marge has intelligence that comes from software. She can read newspapers, find and correct misspelled words, learn about banks like Barclays, and understand that some restaurants are better places to eat than others.[60] Baxter is a new robot introduced in 2012 which learns by guidance. A worker could teach Baxter how to perform a task by moving its hands in the desired motion and having Baxter memorize them. Extra dials, buttons, and controls are available on Baxter's arm for more precision and features. Any regular worker could program Baxter and it only takes a matter of minutes, unlike usual industrial robots that take extensive programs and coding in order to be used. This means Baxter needs no programming in order to operate. No software engineers are needed. This also means Baxter can be taught to perform multiple, more complicated tasks. Sawyer was added in 2015 for smaller, more precise tasks.[61] Etymology See also: Glossary of robotics A scene from Karel Čapek's 1920 play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots), showing three robots. The word robot was introduced to the public by the Czech interwar writer Karel Čapek in his play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots), published in 1920.[62] The play begins in a factory that uses a chemical substitute for protoplasm to manufacture living, simplified people called robots. The play does not focus in detail on the technology behind the creation of these living creatures, but in their appearance they prefigure modern ideas of androids, creatures who can be mistaken for humans. These mass-produced workers are depicted as efficient but emotionless, incapable of original thinking and indifferent to self-preservation. At issue is whether the robots are being exploited and the consequences of human dependence upon commodified labor (especially after a number of specially-formulated robots achieve self-awareness and incite robots all around the world to rise up against the humans). Karel Čapek himself did not coin the word. He wrote a short letter in reference to an etymology in the Oxford English Dictionary in which he named his brother, the painter and writer Josef Čapek, as its actual originator.[62] In an article in the Czech journal Lidové noviny in 1933, he explained that he had originally wanted to call the creatures laboři ("workers", from Latin labor). However, he did not like the word, and sought advice from his brother Josef, who suggested "roboti". The word robota means literally "corvée", "serf labor", and figuratively "drudgery" or "hard work" in Czech and also (more general) "work", "labor" in many Slavic languages (e.g.: Bulgarian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Polish, Macedonian, Ukrainian, archaic Czech, as well as robot in Hungarian). Traditionally the robota (Hungarian robot) was the work period a serf (corvée) had to give for his lord, typically 6 months of the year. The origin of the word is the Old Church Slavonic (Old Bulgarian) rabota "servitude" ("work" in contemporary Bulgarian and Russian), which in turn comes from the Proto-Indo-European root *orbh-. Robot is cognate with the German root Arbeit (work).[63][64] The word robotics, used to describe this field of study,[3] was coined by the science fiction writer Isaac Asimov. Asimov created the "Three Laws of Robotics" which are a recurring theme in his books. These have since been used by many others to define laws used in fiction. (The three laws are pure fiction, and no technology yet created has the ability to understand or follow them, and in fact most robots serve military purposes, which run quite contrary to the first law and often the third law. "People think about Asimov's laws, but they were set up to point out how a simple ethical system doesn't work. If you read the short stories, every single one is about a failure, and they are totally impractical," said Dr. Joanna Bryson of the University of Bath