A history of robotics
Credit: Bert van Dijk/Getty images.
Even though modern robots are a 20th -century creation, humans have been trying to use mechanical devices to do their labor for a lot longer. The first automata date back 5,000 years, to ancient Egypt. The major milestones in the journey of the robotics theme are set out in the timeline below.
The robotics story
Human figurines were built into water clocks to automatically strike the hour bell.
Mathematician Archytas of Tarentum invented a wooden pigeon that could fly.
Al-Jazari published a book about the building and use of automata.
Jacques de Vaucanson, a French artist and inventor, built a flute-playing robot.
The Jacquard loom was invented to simplify the process of manufacturing textiles.
The term ‘robot’ was first used in a play by Czech author Karel Capek.
Westinghouse unveiled Elektro, a robot that could walk and respond to speech (and smoke cigarettes).
Isaac Asimov published his Three Laws of Robotics in the short story Runaround.
Work began on the Elmer and Elsie robots, which were programmed to think the way biological brains do.
Alan Turing proposed a test to determine whether or not a machine has gained the power to think for itself.
Ray Goertz patented a teleoperation arm he developed for handling nuclear materials.
Unimate, the first mass-produced industrial robots, started working on General Motors' assembly lines.
MIT researcher Heinrich Ernst developed the MH-1, a computer-operated mechanical hand.
The first computer-controlled robotic arm was designed as a tool for the disabled.
SRI International's Shakey became the first mobile robot controlled by AI (using a radio link).
The Cincinnati Milacron T3 was released, the first commercial industrial robot controlled by a microcomputer.
The Stanford Cart successfully crossed a room, navigating around obstacles using its own sensors.
Wabot 2, a humanoid robot capable of playing the keyboard and reading musical scores, was introduced.
The PUMA 560 robotic surgical arm was used in the first documented robot-assisted surgical procedure.
General Atomics' MQ-1 Predator drone entered service.
Honda launched the P2 humanoid robot.
Sony displayed Aibo, the first robotic dog.
Probotics released Cye, a personal robot that could perform a variety of household chores.
Honda unveiled its Asimo advanced humanoid robot—the first robot to walk on two legs.
iRobot began selling the first Roomba robotic vacuum cleaners.
Boston Dynamics unveiled Big Dog, a dynamically stable quadruped robot.
Robonaut 2, a human-like robotic assistant, was launched into space on the shuttle Discovery.
Rethink Robotics unveiled Baxter, its collaborative robot designed to work alongside humans.
Japan sent the Kirobo robot into space to work alongside astronauts on the International Space Station.
Boston Dynamics announced the latest version of its running and jumping rescue robot, Atlas.
Hanson Robotics creates Sophia, a humanoid robot that could mimic human interactions.
The University of California at Berkeley became the first to use robots to help with COVID-19 testing.
Samsung announced Bot Handy, a single-armed collaborative assistant for the home, as a concept product.
The robotics industry was worth $63 billion.
Engineered Arts unveiled the world’s most advanced humanoid robot, Ameca.
The robotics industry is expected to be worth $218 billion.
Source: GlobalData Thematic Intelligence
GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.
GlobalData’s Thematic Intelligence uses proprietary data, research, and analysis to provide a forward-looking perspective on the key themes that will shape the future of the world’s largest industries and the organisations within them.