History of Robots

Here we will talk about some of the robots that have been part of history and some recent ones as well.

Lets start by going with some formal definitions of terms like robotics and robots.

If you go on Google, it will say that Robotics is “a branch of mechanical, electric and electronic engineering and computer science. It deals withe design, construction, operation and application of robots as well as computer systems.”

Basically, robotics is the branch of technology that deals with physical robots.

Now comes the definition for a robot.

First lets throw out some historical trivia.

The word “robot” was first used by a writer Karel Capek in his 1920’s play about the future titled, “R.U.R or Rossum’s Universal Robots”. The word “robot” itself is a Czech word which means “forced labor”.

So robots are programmable machines that can carry out a series of actions autonomously or semi autonomously by interacting with the real world using sensors and other devices.

In the 1960s there was a great deal of excitement in the robot world largely showing up in Hollywood movies and television shows.

But in 1966 we saw the creation a boxey wheeled robot named Shakey, which was the first real attempt to produce an autonomous robot that could move around in its environment and was considered the first robot to have some form of artificial intelligence.

Otheres in Hollywood like Star Wars with R2D2 and C3PO, and the show Lost in Space and the robot called B9.

There was one of the most recognizable old robots called Robby the Robot from the television show Forbidden Planet.

There were movies like Wall-E, Terminator, SimOne, AI, Gort from the Day the Earth Stood Still.

Robin Williams in the movie Millenial Man

Robots, Robocop, Short Circuit, Robot and Frank, Lost in Space, Space Camp, the character Johnny Cab in Total Recall, Red Planet, Batteries not Included, Logan’s Run, Minority Report, The Matrix, Spaceballs, Ex-Machina (which looks like the Sophia robot from Hanson Robotics), X-Men, Stepford Wives, Big Hero 6, Blade Runner and many more.

There has been discussion over the years of the lack of minority appearing robots or woman robots.

A few of the more famous female robots were these

There was a product called “secretary in a suitcase” which we will describe shortly.

A good documentary film about the Chess playing robot called “Game Over” with the computer Deep Blue playing Gary Kasperov.

Check out an amazing website showing photos of toy robots throughout history by Scot Bray on the site HackingMartian or http://www.HackingMartian.com. Also Scot Cragston with his amazing photo robot collection on http://www.horikawaRobots.com

The computer named Watson played on Jeopardy once.

Minsky was very much involved in AI in the 70s and the UK government stopped funding AI research in the 1970s while Kurzweil came out with the term Singularity and raised the idea of a guaranteed income for people as robots take away all the jobs.

Hong Kong recently spent over $6 billion in AI research and something called Bluesky Research.

It was funny that WoWwee company after several years of success with their macho male Robosapien toy robot came out with a slender sexy toy female robot.

It was made without clothes partly because of importation and categorization rules which made it easier to ship if a toy robot did not have clothing.

(under construction August 27 2021)