Saturday 30 July 2016

History of robotics timeline Pt.2

1927- Metropolis (Fritz Lang).
This influential science-fiction film presents a highly stylized futuristic city where a beautiful and cultured utopia exists above a bleak underworld populated by mistreated workers. When the privileged youth Freder discovers this, he befriends the teacher Maria, and tries to help the workers. Click for more

1929- Gakutensoku - Japan’s first robot.
Gakutensoku (which comes from the Japanese for “learning from the laws of nature”) was the first robot to be built in Japan in 1928, and was designed and manufactured by biologist and botanist Makoto Nishimura. It could change its facial expression (using springs and gears in its head), puff its cheeks (to imitate breathing) and move its head, hands and body. Click for more

1932- Lilliput, created in Japan, was the first robot toy to be produced for mass consumption.

1937- Elektro robot built by the Westinghouse Electric Corporation, Ohio
ELEKTRO was a 7ft high robot made from aluminium over a steel frame weighing 260 lb. It was built for New York’s World’s Fair in 1939 by J M Barrnett of Westinghouse. Its ‘brain’ includes an electric eye, 48 relays and signal lights. Walking was achieved using rollers under each foot driven by chains connected to motors in its torso. It also had 9 motors to operate its fingers, arms, head and the mouth – for simple speech.

Elektro the Moto-Man and his Little Dog Sparko

1939- Isaac Asimov writes his robot stories.
Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) was a chemist and prolific author famous for his Foundation Universe as well as his books on robots with ‘positronic’ brains. His first robot story was written in 1939, and I, Robot, published in 1950 was his first collection of robot stories, which influenced the 2004 Will Smith film of the same name. He also wrote a series of books featuring his detective Elijah Baley and his robot partner R Daneel Olivaw. Key to these stories were his three laws of robotics, which relate to how robots interact with one another and with humans: - A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. - A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. - A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws. To which were added in a later novel, the zeroth law - A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.

1940- Mechanically coupled ’master-slave’ manipulators created by German engineer Goertz.
In 1949, Ray Goertz started developing master-slave manipulators which led to various devices, such as electronically remote manipulators for the nuclear industry and teleoperator configurations for the Lunar space program.

1949- Grey Walter's robots (Elmer and Elsie).
In the late 1940s, Grey Walter built his first two turtle robots called Elmer and Elsie. He wanted to prove that complex behaviour could be achieved by suitable connection between brain cells. His work inspired later generations, including Rodney Brooks. We’ll have a closer look at Grey Walter’s Machina Speculatrix in week four.

1952- Astro boy.
Between 1952 and 1968, Osamu Tezuka from Japan wrote a series of adventures for a robot named Astro Boy. Astro Boy (or the Mighty Atom) lives in a futuristic world where Robots and humans coexist. He has seven powers which he uses to fight crime, evil and injustice. Click for more

1954- First patent for the first industrial robot.
George C Devol Jr, applied for patent on the first industrial robot, Unimation.

1960- General Electric Handyman/Hardyman.
Ralph S Mosher created a cybernetic anthropomorphous machine. The movement of a human operator’s arms is detected using a mechanical system, which is connected to the actual robot, whose arms move just like the human’s arms. Click for more

1961- MH-1.
The MH-1 was a computer operated mechanical hand, developed by Heinrich Ernst, as part of his work at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

1966- Shakey - the first mobile robot which could reason its actions.
Shakey (so called because of its jerky actions) was created in 1966 by the Stanford Research Institute. It was the first mobile robot which could reason its actions, because it had a bump detector, TV Camera and Range Finder. It could take general instructions and work out how to achieve them, rather than being given explicit commands. For example, if commanded to ‘move blocks around a room’ it would work out how it would need to move in order to achieve this.

1969- General Electric Walking Truck.
Designed by Ralph Mosher to help soldiers carry equipment over difficult terrain. The walking truck used feedback to give the operator a better idea of what was happening.

1969- Unimation Inc. introduce first industrial robot.
In 1959, George Devol and Joseph Engelberger formed their company, Unimation, which produced the first industrial robot. It used hydraulic actuators and was controlled by a program on a magnetic drum, which specified the angles of each joint, accurate to 1/10,000 of an inch.

1969- Stanford Arm - Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.
In 1969, Victor Scheinman invented the Stanford arm. This was a pioneering robot, which made precise movements under a computer’s control, which was a significant development for future robot applications such as; assembly in the manufacturing industry. The design was sold to Unimation in 1977. Click for more

1977- First Star Wars Movie
Star Wars (later retitled Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope) was released. The film featured robots R2-D2 and C-3PO.

1983- NASA Canadarm
A robotic arm was needed for Space Shuttle missions to allow payloads to be deployed, manoeuvred and captured in space. The Shuttle Remote Manipulator system was designed by Canadians for the purpose – hence the term Canadarm. The original arm was capable of moving objects weighting 332.5 kg in space, later versions could cope with items weighing 3293kg in space (on Earth the arm cannot lift itself!). Click for more

1994- Dante ll
Carnegie Universities eight-legged walking robot, Dante ll, successfully descends into Mt Spurr to collect volcanic gas samples.

1997- Mars Pathfinder
This comprised a lander, named the Carl Sagan Memorial Station, and the associated rover called Sojourner. Between landing on July 4th 1997 and its final transmission on Sept 27, 1997, 550 images from the rover were sent back to Earth, together with data from chemical analysis of rocks and soils and information on Mars’ weather. Click for more

1999- AIBOSony releases the first version of AIBO, a robotic dog with the ability to learn, entertain and communicate with its owner.

Honda debuts ASIMO, the next generation in its series of humanoid robots. Click for more

2002- First cyborg?
There is ongoing research into cyborgs. Professor Kevin Warwick, now Visiting Professor of Cybernetics at the University of Reading, claims to be the first cyborg because he has implanted a microchip into his nervous system as part of ‘Project Cyborg’.

2004- Second Mars rover
After leaving in July 2003 NASA’s, twin robot geologists (the Mars Exploration Rovers), finally landed on Mars in January 2004. This was part of a long term robotic exploration of the red planet, to search for and characterize rocks. The rovers also took panoramic images which provide scientists with the information they need for further research.

2005- DARPA Grand Challenge 

2005- Self-replicating robot
Researchers at Cornell University build the first self-replicating robot. Each ‘robot’ is made up of a small tower of computerized cubes which link together through the use of magnets. Click for more

2008- MOD Grand Challenge
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) Grand Challenge is a competition designed to find solutions to a comprehensive range of military threats in an urban environment. Two teams from the University of Reading reached the final of the competition, where each team was given an hour to search 150m2 of Copehill in order to identify different types of threat. These could include improvised explosive devices, snipers, military vehicles and armoured soldiers, with the number of correct identifications being used to rank the teams. The entrants’ vehicles needed to move autonomously from a forward operating base and communicate the identity and position of threats back to base. Click for more

2012- DARPA robotics challenge/ Curiosity lands on Mars
DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) Grand Challenge is a competition for American autonomous vehicles and to facilitate robotic development. The first challenge was held in a desert in California in 2004, however there was no winner as none of the robots finished the route. 2012 was also the year that the Curiosity Rover landed on Mars.

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