History of the Robot

Robotics is based ob two enabling technologies: telemanipulators and the ability of numerical control of machines.

Telemanipulators are remotely controlled machines which usually consist of an arm and a gripper. The movement of arm and gripper follow the instructions the human gives through his control device. First telemanipulators have been used to deal with radio-active material.

Numeric control allows controlling machines very precisely in relation to a given coordinate system. It was first used in 1952 at the MIT and lead to the first programming language for machines called APT, Automatic Program Tools.

The combination of both of these techniques leads to the first programmable telemanipulator. The first industrial robot using these principles was installed in 1961. These are the robots one knows from industrial facilities like car construction plant.

The development of mobile robots was driven by the desire to automate transportation in production processes and autonomous transport systems. The former lead to driver-less transport system used on factory floors to move objects to different points in the production processes in the late seventies.

Humanoid robots are developed since 1975 when Wabot-I was presented in Japan. The current Wabot-III already has some minor cognitive capabilities. Another humanoid robot is Cog, developed in the MIT-AI-Lab since 1994. Honda’s humanoid robot became well known in the public when presented back in 1999.

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