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The history of robots has its origins on the ancient world. The modern concept began to be developed with the onset of the Industrial Revolution , which allowed the use of complex mechanics, and the subsequent introduction of electricity.
This made it possible to power machines with small compact motors. In the early 20th century, the notion of a humanoid machine was developed. Today, one can envisage human-sized robots with the capacity for near-human thoughts and movement. The first uses of modern robots were in factories as industrial robots — simple fixed machines capable of manufacturing tasks which allowed production with less need for human assistance.
Digitally controlled industrial robots and robots using artificial intelligence have been built since the s. Concepts of artificial servants and companions date at least as far back as the ancient legends of Cadmus , who is said to have sown dragon teeth that turned into soldiers, and Pygmalion whose statue of Galatea came to life. Many ancient mythologies included artificial people, such as the talking mechanical handmaidens built by the Greek god Hephaestus Vulcan to the Romans out of gold,  the clay golems of Jewish legend and clay giants of Norse legend.
Chinese legend relates that in the 10th century BC, Yan Shi made an automaton resembling a human in an account from the Lie Zi text. In Greek mythology , Hephaestus created utilitarian three-legged tables that could move about under their own power, and a bronze man, Talos , that defended Crete. Talos was eventually destroyed by Medea who cast a lightning bolt at his single vein of lead. To take the golden fleece Jason was also required to tame two fire-breathing bulls with bronze hooves; and like Cadmus he sowed the teeth of a dragon into soldiers.
In Christian legend , several of the men associated with the introduction of Arabic learning and, through it, the reintroduction of Aristotle and Hero 's works to medieval Europe devised brazen heads that could answer questions posed to them.
Albertus Magnus was supposed to have constructed an entire android which could perform some domestic tasks, but it was destroyed by Albert's student Thomas Aquinas for disturbing his thought.
Automata were popular in the imaginary worlds of medieval literature. For instance, the Middle Dutch tale Roman van Walewein "The Romance of Walewein", early 13th century described mechanical birds and angels producing sound by means of systems of pipes. Concepts akin to a robot can be found as long ago as the 4th century BC, when the Greek mathematician Archytas of Tarentum postulated a mechanical bird he called "The Pigeon", which was propelled by steam.
Yet another early automaton was the clepsydra , made in BC by Ctesibius of Alexandria , a physicist and inventor from Ptolemaic Egypt. Taking up the earlier reference in Homer 's Iliad, Aristotle speculated in his Politics ca.
There is only one condition in which we can imagine managers not needing subordinates, and masters not needing slaves. This condition would be that each instrument could do its own work, at the word of command or by intelligent anticipation, like the statues of Daedalus or the tripods made by Hephaestus, of which Homer relates that "Of their own motion they entered the conclave of Gods on Olympus", as if a shuttle should weave of itself, and a plectrum should do its own harp playing.
In ancient China , an account of automata is found in the Lie Zi text, written in the 3rd century BC, in which King Mu of Zhou — BC is presented with a life-size, human-shaped mechanical figure by Yan Shi, an "artificer". Al-Jazari — , a Muslim inventor during the Artuqid dynasty , designed and constructed a number of automatic machines, including kitchen appliances and musical automata powered by water.
One particularly complex automaton included four automatic musicians that floated on a lake. Hero's works on automata were translated into Latin amid the 12th century Renaissance. The early 13th-century artist-engineer Villard de Honnecourt sketched plans for several automata.
At the end of the 13th century, Robert II, Count of Artois , built a pleasure garden at his castle at Hesdin that incorporated a number of robots, humanoid and animal. One of the first recorded designs of a humanoid robot was made by Leonardo da Vinci — in around Leonardo's notebooks, rediscovered in the s, contain detailed drawings of a mechanical knight in armour which was able to sit up, wave its arms and move its head and jaw.
Around , many automata were built, some of which could act, draw, fly, or play music;  some of the most famous works of the period were created by Jacques de Vaucanson in , including an automaton flute player, a tambourine player, and his most famous work, " The Digesting Duck ".
Vaucanson's duck was powered by weights, and could imitate a real duck by flapping its wings there were over parts in each of the wings alone , eat grain, digest it, and defecate by excreting matter stored in a hidden compartment. The Japanese craftsman Hisashige Tanaka , known as "Japan's Edison", created an array of extremely complex mechanical toys, some of which could serve tea, fire arrows drawn from a quiver, or even paint a Japanese kanji character.
The landmark text Karakuri Zui Illustrated Machinery was published in Remotely operated vehicles were demonstrated in the late 19th century in the form of several types of remotely controlled torpedoes.
The early s saw remotely controlled torpedoes by John Ericsson pneumatic , John Louis Lay electric wire guided , and Victor von Scheliha electric wire guided. The Brennan torpedo , invented by Louis Brennan in was powered by two contra-rotating propellers 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".
Archibald Low was known as the "father of radio guidance systems" for his pioneering work on guided rockets and planes during the First World War.
In , he demonstrated a remote controlled aircraft to the Royal Flying Corps and in the same year built the first wire-guided rocket. In the winter of , the Soviet Union explored the surface of the moon with the lunar vehicle Lunokhod 1 , the first roving remote-controlled robot to land on another celestial body.
In the book " The Wonderful Wizard of Oz ", robots were called "mechanical men". A notable character was the Tin Woodman , a man made of tin who chopped trees in the forests of Oz. The term "robot  " was first used to denote fictional automata in the play R.
R, replaced the popular use of the word "automaton" with the word "robot. The first humanoid robot was a soldier with a trumpet, made in by Friedrich Kaufmann in Dresden, Germany.
Many robots were constructed before the dawn of computer-controlled servomechanisms, for the public relations purposes of major firms. These were essentially machines that could perform a few stunts, like the automata of the 18th century. In , one of the first humanoid robots was exhibited at the annual exhibition of the Model Engineers Society in London. Richards, the robot - named Eric - consisted of an aluminium suit of armour with eleven electromagnets and one motor powered by a volt power source.
The robot could move its hands and head and could be controlled by remote control or voice control. Westinghouse Electric Corporation built Televox in ; it was a cardboard cutout connected to various devices which users could turn on and off.
In , the humanoid robot known as Elektro appeared at the World's Fair. The body consisted of a steel gear cam and motor skeleton covered by an aluminium skin. In , Japan's first robot, Gakutensoku , was designed and constructed by biologist Makoto Nishimura.
In and , Isaac Asimov formulated the Three Laws of Robotics , and in the process coined the word "robotics". In , Norbert Wiener formulated the principles of cybernetics , the basis of practical robotics. The first electronic autonomous robots with complex behaviour were created by William Grey Walter of the Burden Neurological Institute at Bristol, England in and 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 and 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.
Walter's work inspired subsequent generations of robotics researchers such as Rodney Brooks , Hans Moravec and Mark Tilden. The first digitally operated and programmable robot was invented by George Devol in and was ultimately called the Unimate.
This later laid the foundations of the modern robotics industry. The Rancho Arm was developed as a robotic arm to help handicapped patients at the Rancho Los Amigos Hospital in Downey, California ; this computer-controlled arm was bought by Stanford University in The system was heralded as being more powerful, faster, and more capable than its predecessors.
Marvin Minsky created the Tentacle Arm in ; the arm was computer-controlled and its 12 joints were powered by hydraulics. The first mobile robot capable of reasoning about its surroundings, Shakey , was built in by the Stanford Research Institute now SRI International. Shakey combined multiple sensor inputs, including TV cameras, laser rangefinders , and "bump sensors" to navigate. Japanese robotics have led the field since the s. Its vision system allowed it to measure distances and directions to objects using external receptors, artificial eyes and ears.
And its conversation system allowed it to communicate with a person in Japanese, with an artificial mouth. This made it the first android. Feedback was provided by touch and pressure sensors and analyzed by a computer. Best used for picking up parts and placing them in another location, the SCARA was introduced to assembly lines in The Stanford Cart successfully crossed a room full of chairs in It relied primarily on stereo vision to navigate and determine distances.
Takeo Kanade created the first "direct drive arm" in The first of its kind, the arm's motors were contained within the robot itself, eliminating long transmissions. In Wabot-2 was revealed; capable of playing the organ, Wabot-2 had 10 fingers and two feet. Wabot-2 was able to read a score of music and accompany a person. In , Honda began its humanoid research and development program to create robots capable of interacting successfully with humans.
Genghis was famous for being made quickly and cheaply due to construction methods; Genghis used 4 microprocessors, 22 sensors, and 12 servo motors. Flynn published "Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control: The paper advocated creating smaller cheaper robots in greater numbers to increase production time and decrease the difficulty of launching robots into space.
The biomimetic robot RoboTuna was built by doctoral student David Barrett at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in to study how fish swim in water.
RoboTuna is designed to swim and to resemble a bluefin tuna [ disambiguation needed ]. Honda's P2 humanoid robot was first shown in Standing for "Prototype Model 2", P2 was an integral part of Honda's humanoid development project; over 6 feet 1. Expected to operate for only seven days, the Sojourner rover finally shuts down after 83 days of operation in Sojourner's ability to navigate with little data about its environment and nearby surroundings allowed it to react to unplanned events and objects.
The P3 humanoid robot was revealed by Honda in as a part of the company's continuing humanoid project. ASIMO can run, walk, communicate with humans, recognise faces, environment, voices and posture, and interact with its environment. In April , the Canadarm2 was launched into orbit and attached to the International Space Station.
The Canadarm2 is a larger, more capable version of the arm used by the Space Shuttle , and is hailed as "smarter". The flight was made in 22 hours. The popular Roomba , a robotic vacuum cleaner, was first released in by the company iRobot. In , Cornell University revealed a robot capable of self-replication; a set of cubes capable of attaching and detaching, the first robot capable of building copies of itself.