History of robotics

3 min. reading
New Gen, New technologies, Robotics / 4 September, 2021

Edgar Mondragón Tenorio Journalist

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Ancient Greek mythology already spoke of mechanical humanoid creatures created by the god Hephaestus to help him in his blacksmith’s workshop.

Another case is the invention of a mechanical bird whose movements were controlled by a jet of compressed air, created by the Greek mathematician Aquitias of Tarentum around 350 BC.

The Babylonians developed the “water clock,” considered by many to be the first robotic device. At the other end of Eurasia, Chinese engineer King-Shu Tse designed a mechanical bird and horse.

Even the Greek philosopher Aristotle was already alluding to the desire for tools that obeyed the orders of their masters to perform tasks for him and not have the need for slaves.

Since then, various automaton mechanisms have continued to appear, mainly designed to entertain, or fulfill specific functions such as telling the time or even serving tea.


The potential of the Robotics industry

The potential of the Robotics industry

It would be wrong to say that robotics is a new sector in its exploration, so much so that since the late 70's, robots have been incorporated, firstly, in the automotive industry, and since then to date, the applications of robotics and the sectors where it is used have multiplied.

Advances of robotics in the scientific revolution (16th-18th century)

Leonardo DaVinci sketched the plans for the creation of an artifact in the shape of a Germanic knight that would have the ability to imitate human movements, although today we do not know if he even attempted to build it.

 In 1525 German scholar Hans Bullmann builds humanoid androids that play musical instruments.

French engineer Jacques Vaucanson designed, in 1737, several robotic beings, most notably a duck with the ability to quack, drink, eat and excrete.

The robots of the industrial revolution

In France in 1801, the inventor Joseph Jacquard builds an automated loom controlled by punch cards, giving a leap in the intended use of automaton machines from entertainment to industrial use.

Between the 20’s and 40’s of the 19th centuries, Babbage’s theoretical developments with his difference engine and the consequent appearance of George Boole’s Boolean algebra, began to lay the foundations for the application of the nascent computational sciences in the creation of the new automata with a view to developing true almost human skills.

At the end of this century, in 1888 Nicolas Tesla developed the alternating current induction motor.

From the 20th century to the present day

The 20th century represented a whirlwind in the development of robotics. We can even speak of the contribution of literature to this science. Karel Capek in his work “R.U.R.” coined for the first time the word Robot (what means hard work). Isaac Asimov, for his part, in his work “Runaround” established the three laws of robotics that are still valid today.

The challenge towards the conception of automated machines/tools continued its course, along with the development of complementary sciences such as computer science and artificial intelligence.

In 1954, engineers George Devol and Joe Engleberger developed the first programmable articulated mechanical arm. Years later it would become the first robot to be used in industry, in the automotive sector, and at the same time the first robot to be mass-produced for these purposes.

Since then and until now, robotics has accompanied the great events of humanity, in the technological development and contributing to obtaining new knowledge, as well as supporting in difficult tasks for man. 

Robots were present in the space race, they are on Mars, they have helped to explore the deep sea and supported in the review of the damage caused by the meltdown of a nuclear plant, where the human being would simply die just trying to do it. 

They are not yet what the science fiction imagination has put in our heads, not yet, but developers are getting closer every day to achieve that goal.


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