Past And The Present: The History And Evolution Of Robots

Past And The Present: The History And Evolution Of Robots

Past And The Present: The History And Evolution Of Robots. Robotics are in high demand for various reasons, including but not limited to their application in the following fields: engineering, manufacturing, operations, and end-users.

Intelligent robots that can aid people in their daily lives and provide a secure environment for everybody are at the heart of robotics’ mission.

Robotics combines engineering and computer science. Advances in robotics have made it possible for machines to stand in for people and perform their tasks.

Though the concept of creating machines with autonomous operations extends back to classical times, the development of research into the practicality and utility of robots lagged.

Also Read: 10 Common Misconceptions About Forensic Science

Robotic technology can be traced back to antiquity. It wasn’t until the industrial revolution that complex machinery could be used to create the contemporary idea. 

Definitions of “Robot”

A “flexible, multitalented, diverse, user-designed robot to move material, parts, tools, or any other specialized item through various programmed motions to complete a particular task” robot.

A machine that can automatically perform a lengthy and intricate set of tasks.

Background of Robotics

What does the definition of the word “robot” signify to you? The Czech word robota, meaning “forced labor,” is the term’s etymological ancestor. It was first used in a play written by Karel Capek, a Czech author, precisely a century ago.

In 1921, a play titled RUR (Rossum’s Universal Robots) premiered to widespread acclaim, coining a term that would become a cultural touchstone worldwide.

Aristotle and his concept of “automated tools,” Henry Ford, Leonardo da Vinci, his mechanical knight, and Isaac Asimov deserve attention when discussing the genesis of robotics.

Here, we identify the pivotal moments that ushered in significant development in automation and autonomous mobile robots, beginning in the middle of the twentieth century.

Regarding mobile robotics, autonomy is defined as the ability to make judgments in the face of uncertainty without human intervention. The following are examples of pertinent historical information:

The 50s, England

The first ever mobile robot, ELSIE (Electro-Light-Sensitive Internal-External), was built. However, it had very few technical advantages at the time. It turned out to be a light-sensitive electromechanical robot that was solid on the inside and out.

The 60s, Standford Research Institute. SHAKEY

A robot with built-in touch sensors and a camera for viewing the world around it. Two computers (one on board and one remote) linked through radio allowed it to move on the ground.


A mechanical arm, proximity sensors, a laser telemetry device, and stereo cameras are all built onto a single platform. NASA designed it for use in dangerous or uncharted environments.

80’s, SRI’s CART

Platform with Cartesian coordinates on its vertices for modeling obstacles.

Evolution of industrial robotics

Although industrial robots can imitate human actions and behaviors with a machine’s power, precision, and speed, their designs are often not humanoid. George Devol, an American inventor, established the first robotics firm, Unimation, and created the first industrial robots.

Unimate, a hydraulic arm designed to lift large objects sold to General Motors in 1954, is widely regarded as the world’s first industrial robot. In the years that followed, Unimation tweaked and released many iterations of the same model to a select number of manufacturing facilities, primarily in the automotive industry.

Many more sophisticated robotic arms, some of which already utilized cameras or sensors, began appearing at the end of the 1960s and throughout the 1970s. The Standford Research Institute’s 1966 creation of the Shakey robot is widely regarded as a watershed moment in the development of mobile robots. Thanks to its software and technology, Shakey was the first mobile robot in the world, and it could detect and understand its environment.

Concurrently, the first transportable industrial robots entered the market. The first autonomous ground vehicle (AGV) was introduced in 1954 by Barrett Electronics Corporation.

This vehicle was an electric cart that did not require a driver (Autonomous Guided Vehicle). Because of technological advancements, AGVs began exhibiting increasingly complicated behaviors in the 1980s, and by the 1990s, they were equipped with far more precise sensors and lasers.

While the United States is widely credited with developing the first industrial robot, other European and Asian countries, particularly Japan and Sweden, were also hard at work on their versions of these machines in the 1980s and 1990s. You may recall that IBM’s Deep Blue defeated Garry Kasparov, the global chess champion, in 1997.

The game against Kasparov seems antiquated in light of the progress in Artificial Intelligence or other technology such as those stated at the beginning of the article.

Winning chess games isn’t nearly as valuable or lucrative as the applications of artificial intelligence to robotics and, consequently, the industrial sector. Incorporating artificial intelligence into industrial robots has many benefits.

  • Improved precision.
  • Smarter choices can be made (especially in the face of obstacles).
  • Predictive upkeep.

Getting started on the road to becoming an intelligent factory might be challenging for certain businesses due to the dynamic nature of automation. Robotnik understands the importance of facilitating, accompanying, and tailoring mobile robotics to the unique requirements of each business, no matter its size. Robotics and automation are inseparable.

The Twentieth Century to Today

Past And The Present: The History And Evolution Of Robots

“robot” was first used in 1920, when Karel Capek’s play RUR (Rossum’s Universal Robots) was released. It comes from a historical Slavic term for “repetitive or oppressive work.” Unfortunately, the first industrial robot didn’t enter production for another thirty years.

Unimate, created by George Devol in the 1950s, was a robotic arm used to move to die castings around a GM plant in New Jersey. It went into operation in 1961. Devol and robotics pioneer Joseph Engelberger established the industry’s pioneering robot production company, Unimation. The robot was first seen as a novelty.

Kuka, a German company, also created a multi-spot welding line for Volkswagen at the same time in the mid-1950s. As early as 1968, Kawasaki had already licensed a Unimation concept for a hydraulic robot and was producing prototypes. By 1969, GM’s Unimates had helped the company’s body weld rate reach 90% at one of their sites.

In 1970, researchers at Stanford University created the first version of what is now known as the “Standard Arm,” a tool for assembling small parts that include touch and pressure input.

Due to the ability of the machines to generate high-quality welds in less-than-ideal settings, automated welding was destined to become a significant application of industrial robots.

By 1973, Kuka had already introduced the now-standard six-axis arm. During this time period, completely electric robots also emerged. In the same year, Cincinnati Milacron released a commercially viable industrial robot controlled by a microprocessor.

The 1970s were a groundbreaking decade for robotics, with innovations like the first all-electric microprocessor-controlled robot, the first high-precision insertion robot, increased payloads, the first sensor-based welding robot, the PUMA robot for small-parts assembly, the creation of the Selectively Compliant (SCARA) arm, and the transition from hydraulic to electric motor drives in spot welding robots.

At the University of Rhode Island in 1980, machine vision was demonstrated. GM planned to employ three robots to sort castings using machine vision the following year. The decade would be dotted with more breakthroughs, such as creating a robot programming language and a SCARA robot with direct drive. Both rates and storage capacities were on the rise.

The first packaging robot, used to load pretzels, appeared in the 1990s, along with advances in robot controls and synchronization. The robot arm’s laser guiding system was patented near the decade’s end.

In 2003, NASA’s robotic rovers Spirit and Opportunity amazed the world when they traversed the Martian surface. In 2004, four robots with a combined total of 38 axes could work in perfect harmony with one another. The following year, a wireless teach pendant was developed, which greatly improved the security of robot instruction. Lightweighting, payload capacities, reach, speeds, and multi-axis synchronization all saw further progress.

In 2003, with the release of the Roomba robotic vacuum, robots entered the domestic workforce. By 2009, research and development on autonomous industrial vehicles were well underway, and by the beginning of the next decade, robotic arms were becoming mobile in the manufacturing environment. Collaborative robots, or COBOTS, were first introduced in 2013 to assist humans in their work. Autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) were already being used in factories the following year. Omron Electronics acquired adept Technologies in 2015; the firm had its beginnings with Unimation, the pioneer of the robot industry. Large purchases similar to these continued throughout the decade.

For the better part of the last fifty years, robots have been used for various purposes, from toys and amusement to military weapons and search and rescue aid. As coding and technology advance, robots take over many tasks previously considered too risky, dull, or difficult for people to complete.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *