Artificial Intelligence

History of Robotics: Discover the most Impressive Inventions of Recent Years

Have you ever thought about when the history of robotics began? Because, although this concept is associated with new technologies and the development of machines with artificial intelligence that simulate human appearance and behavior, as shown in some movies or books, the truth is that its origin goes beyond what you imagine.

The desire to create beings capable of serving humans dates back many years ago when men began to develop artifacts with human or animal figures to satisfy some needs. 

Robotics is associated with the term “robot,” which became popular only in 1920, thanks to the work Universal Robots Rossum by the Czech writer Karel Čapek, who used the word “robota” to refer to forced labor or servants and finally this was translated into English as a robot.

Interesting, isn’t it? Do you want to know more about the history of robotics, its origin, and some of the most important inventions? Continue reading this article made by Dustin Bratten, content creator from the essay writer online service, and find out all about it!

Origin of Robotics

To know the origin of robotics, it is necessary to analyze the history of technology and go back thousands of years ago when men began to develop automatons. 

These date back to prehistoric times, around the 7th-6th century BC, and were figures in the shape of people or animals that could move on their own and were intended to serve as entertainment.

This concept looks pretty isolated to what we know today as robots, as we tend to link this term with inventions that appear in movies or other science fiction material. 

In these, robots are shown as machines with a human-like appearance, which perform tasks assigned to them by their creators, thanks to the fact that they are programmed with software that allows them to perform these functions. In our Software Engineering Fundamentals course, you will learn more about this set of programs.

Although the history of robotics as science belongs to modern development, you will notice that the basis of the concept is the same, since these are inventions that look similar to us or other beings and can perform different jobs that allow them to satisfy some desire of the creator. 

For example, they were intended to be used for people’s entertainment in ancient times. Currently, robotics is used to automate various industrial sectors to optimize specific tasks and processes that help improve productivity in organizations.

History of Robotics 

Now that you know the origin, we will tell you more details about the history of robotics and its evolution over the years. This branch of science is linked to the development of human-like artifacts intended to reduce people’s workload. 

The EDS Robotics page, in its note “What is robotics?”, defines it as “A science that brings together different technological fields, with the main objective of designing robotic machines capable of performing different automated tasks depending on the capability of their software.”

The science of robotics began to develop in the middle of the 20th century with the appearance of the first robots. George Devol was the creator of the first industrial robot, which was designed in 1953 for his company Unimation, known as the first company in the manufacture of robots.

The industrial robot was named Unimate and had been designed to take care of the transport and welding of castings in molds, as this work was risky for the company’s personnel, so this new device was put to fulfill the function of the employees.

Unimate was first installed in 1961 at the Inland Fisher Guide Plant assembly line, which belonged to General Motors. This allowed the company to be recognized worldwide as the pioneer of robotics.

The development of robots took off in large industries, and since then, its growth has not stopped.

Here are some of the robots that appeared in the coming years:

  • The first palletizing robot was in 1964.
  • The first Soviet robot to land on Mars in 1971
  • The first American robot on Mars in 1976
  • The first humanoid robot in 2002, etc. 

Most important inventions in the history of Robotics

Throughout the history of robotics, many innovations have appeared that try to reproduce the human appearance and some of our movements or behaviors to perform specific tasks that involve great effort or risk for people.

Undoubtedly, the list of robots that have been developed is large. However, on this occasion, we will present some of the most important inventions in the history of robotics. 

1. The first robot to land on Mars (1971)

One of the inventions that most marked the history of robotics was the development of the Mars 3 probe, a spacecraft designed with the mission of exploring the red planet.

The primary function of the Soviet spacecraft was to capture and send photos of the surface of Mars and other data related to temperature, wind, and properties of its atmospheric composition so that they could be studied. However, a few minutes after its arrival on Mars, contact with the robot was lost.

2. The first U.S. robot to reach Mars (1975)

Viking I was an uncrewed mission that sent a U.S. spacecraft to Mars. It was equipped with an orbital probe to photograph the surface of the Martian planet and to identify and send back data on its various properties for scientific analysis.

The spacecraft was launched in 1975 and was the most expensive mission ever sent to Mars. It also marked the history of robotics, as it was responsible for most of the information known to date about the red planet. 

3. The Manipulator Arm

PUMA (Programmable Universal Manipulation Arm) is a manipulator arm developed by Unimation, the pioneer company in robotics and whose function was to perform assembly tasks and carry out some research. 

Westinghouse took over the manipulator arm that emerged from the first designs developed by Scheinman and then by the Staubli company. This invention started the robotic assembly industry in the United States and became a pioneer in developing different fields. 

4. Humanoid Robots

Humanoid robots are among the most elaborate inventions in the history of robotics. They are characterized by being bipedal and mimic the shape and behavior of humans. One of the best-known androids in history is ASIMO, first presented in 2000 by the Honda company. 

It was able to move with two legs and interact with people to serve as a motivation to generate interest in young people in the study of science. 

Another of the most popular and recently developed humanoid robots is the famous Sophia, created by Hanson Robotics in 2015.

Currently, this robot has received the title of Saudi citizen due to its high level of artificial intelligence technology, which allows it to learn human behaviors and increase its knowledge every time it interacts with people. 

Sophia can structure her responses and behave in a very similar way to us. In addition, the appearance of this android is so identical to that of humans, being able to replicate some of our facial expressions or gestures.

Importance of robotics

When thinking about the history of robotics, there is no doubt that the multiple benefits that these incredible inventions have left behind also come to mind. Each of them has managed to satisfy some human need or desire.

The different types of robots that have emerged over the years have marked each of the eras in which they appeared, as they helped to reduce the tasks performed by man, allowed the development of new activities that are impossible for humans to perform, and have given the possibility to improve the quality of life of some people.

How has this been achieved? Well, suppose you look at the history of robotics. In that case, you will notice that the main objective of developing these devices is to replace men in risky tasks or tasks that require significant effort and time to optimize these processes and prevent people from being affected.

In conclusion, although the history of robotics as we know it today is part of the modern era, men have had the intention for thousands of years. They have developed various products to resemble the human image and serve and extend some jobs. 

Nowadays, thanks to artificial intelligence, new creations are much more elaborate and autonomous, being able to develop and learn new things by themselves to help society. 

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