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Slide 1 - 1 History of Robotics Technology
Slide 2 - 2 Introduction to Robotics
Slide 3 - 3 History of Robotics
Slide 4 - 4 A robot is an automatically guided machine which is able to do tasks on its own, almost always due to electronically-programmed instructions. Another common characteristic is that by its appearance or movements, a robot often conveys a sense that it has intent or agency of its own. Courtesy of Wikipedia
Slide 5 - 5 Archita, who coincidently is known as the “father of mechanical engineering”, constructed his bird out of wood and used steam to power the movements of the robot.   This bird was then suspended from a pivot bar and at one point the bird managed to fly as much as 200 meters before it ran out of steam.  This is not only the first known robot, but was also one of the first recorded scientifically done studies of how birds fly. 350 BC The first known robot was created around 400-350 BC by the mathematician Archita and was a steam powered pigeon.
Slide 6 - 6 The first recorded reference to robots! 322 BC The Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote: “If every tool, when ordered, or even of its own accord, could do the work that befits it... then there would be no need either of apprentices for the master workers or of slaves for the lords.”
Slide 7 - 7 200BC The Greek inventor and physicist Ctesibus of Alexandria designs water clocks that have movable figures on them. Water clocks are a big breakthrough for timepieces. Up until then the Greeks used hour glasses that had to be turned over after all the sand ran through. Ctesibus' invention changed this because it measured time as a result of the force of water falling through it at a constant rate. In general, the Greeks were fascinated with automata of all kinds often using them in theatre productions and religious ceremonies.
Slide 8 - 8 62AD Heron from Alexandria was a Mathematician, Physicist and Engineer who lived in 10-70 AD. Known as Michanikos, the Machine Man, Heron invented the world's first steam engine, developed some sophisticated surveying tools, and crafted handy gizmos like a self-trimming oil lamp. Heron's clever inventions were particularly notable for their incorporation of the sorts of self-regulating feedback control system. Like today's toilets, his "inexhaustible goblet" regulated its own level with a floating mechanism. But what really excited Heron were novelties: pneumatic gadgets, automata, and magic theaters, one of which rolled itself before the audience on its own power, cranked through a miniature three-dimensional performance, and then made its own exit. Click on the picture above to see a YouTube clip of Hero’s Engine shown above in operation.
Slide 9 - 9 1495 Leonardo Da Vinci designs a mechanical device that looks like an armoured knight. The mechanisms inside "Leonardo's robot" are designed to make the knight move as if there was a real person inside. Inventors in medieval times often built machines like "Leonardo's robot" to amuse royalty. Click on the picture above to see a YouTube clip of more of Leonardo’s machines.
Slide 10 - 10 1738 Jacques de Vaucanson begins building automata in Grenoble, France. He built three in all. His first was the flute player that could play twelve songs. This was closely followed by his second automaton that played a flute and a drum or tambourine, but by far his third was the most famous of them all. The duck was an example of Vaucanson's attempt at what he called "moving anatomy", or modeling human or animal anatomy with mechanics." The duck moved, quacked, flapped it's wings and even ate and digested food.
Slide 11 - 11 1774 Pierre Jaquet-Droz was a Swiss watchmaker of the late 18th century. He lived in Paris, London, and Geneva, where he designed and built animated dolls, or automata, to help his firm sell watches and mechanical birds. Constructed between 1768 and 1774 by Pierre Jaquet-Droz, his son Henri-Louis, and Jean Frederic Leschot were The Writer (made of 6000 pieces), The Musician (2500 pieces) and The Draughtsman (2000 pieces). His astonishing mechanisms fascinated the world's most important people: the kings and emperors of Europe, China, India and Japan. Some consider these devices to be the oldest examples of the computer. The Writer has an input device to set tabs that form a programmable memory, 40 cams that represents the read only program, and a quill pen for output. The work of Pierre Jaquet-Droz predates that of Charles Babbage by decades. The automata of Jaquet-Droz are also considered to be some of the finest examples of human mechanical problem solving. Three particularly complex, and still working and functional dolls are housed at the art and history museum in Neuchâtel, Switzerland.
Slide 12 - 12 “L’Ecrivain” (The Writer 1775) : a unique automaton and a true piece of art. Its six-hundred-piece mechanism was extremely complex, much more intricate than those of other automata. It could be set to write any text of up to forty letters or symbols on a smooth piece of paper, as if on a typewriter. Click on the picture to see a YouTube clip of more of the Jaquet-Droz Automota
Slide 13 - 13 1801 Joseph Marie Jacquard, a silk-weaver, invented an improved textile loom. The Jacquard loom was the first machine to use punched card. These punched cards controlled the weaving, enabling an ordinary workman to produce the most beautiful patterns in a style previously accomplished only with patience, skill, and hard work. Click on the picture opposite to see a YouTube clip of the loom in operation. Jacquard’s work played an important role in the development of the earliest programmable loom, which in turn played an important role in the development of other programmable machines, such as computers.
Slide 14 - 14 1822 Charles Babbage, (1791– 1871) was an English mathematician, philosopher, inventor, and mechanical engineer who originated the concept of a programmable computer. In 1822 he demonstrates a prototype of his "Difference Engine" to the Royal Astronomical Society. He continued his work by designing an even more ambitious project “The Analytical Engine" that reportedly was to use punch cards inspired by Joseph Jacquard's invention. However, during his lifetime he never produced a functional version of either machine. Despite this shortcoming he is often heralded as the "Father of the Computer" and his work lives on as the foundation for the binary numbering system that is the basis of modern computers.
Slide 15 - 15 In 1985 the London Science Museum launched a project to build a complete Babbage Engine to original designs to explore the practical viability of Babbage’s schemes. The Engine chosen was Babbage’s Difference Engine No. 2 designed between 1847 and 1849. The calculating section of the Engine, which weighs 2.6 tonnes and consists of 4,000 separate parts, was completed and working in November 1991, one month before the 200th anniversary of Babbage's birth. Click on the picture to see a YouTube clip the Babbage Difference Engine No. 2 in operation.
Slide 16 - 16 1847 As the inventor of Boolean Algebra, the basis of Boolean Logic and hence modern digital computer logic, George Boole is regarded in hindsight as a founder of the field of computer science. Boole once said ‘... no general method for the solution of questions in the theory of probabilities can be established which does not explicitly recognise ... those universal laws of thought which are the basis of all reasoning.’ Born in Lincolnshire, England he is buried in Ballintemple, Co. Cork having served as the first Professor of Mathematics in Queens College Cork from 1849.
Slide 17 - 17 Click on the picture to see a YouTube clip on George Boole and his impact on the world of electronics and computing.
Slide 18 - 18 1898 Nikola Tesla, the legend of popular culture, inventor of AC current, grandfather of radio, radar and MRIs, invented and tested the world's first remote control weapon in 1898. Today cruise missiles, unmanned air vehicles (UAVs), remote-control tracked vehicles and unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) have revolutionized the defense industry. These robotic warriors are in daily use in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places. Today’s military gurus predict that within a generation weaponized robots will largely replace live pilots, sailors and soldiers sent into harms' way on the battlefields of tomorrow. Few of the play station generation that will control these vehicles from afar know the name of the man who in responsible for giving birth to the automated warrior, Nikola Tesla
Slide 19 - 19 In 1898, six years before the Wright brothers flew, Tesla designed and built a pair of radio controlled boats. The craft were constructed of iron, powered by a electric battery of his own design, and equipped with a radio-mechanical receiver that accepted commands from a wireless transmitter. The boats were equipped with a large whip antenna, a modular space that could carry a charge, diving rudders, a prop and electric running lights that could all be remotely controlled. Tesla demonstrated the vessels to a shocked crowd in an indoor pool at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The crowd was amazed how Tesla, always a showman, maneuvered his six-foot-long boat in patterns through the water, and then stopped and started the craft. He even had the forethought to equip his boats with a crude logic gate which prevented them from being taken over by another transmitter other than his own. The craft alarmed those in the crowd who saw it and who claimed it to be everything from magic and telepathy to being piloted by a trained monkey hidden inside.
Slide 20 - 20 Click on the picture to see a very interesting YouTube clip on the life and work of the genius Nikola Tesla.
Slide 21 - 21 1921 R.U.R., often subtitled Rossum's Universal Robots is a science fiction play in the Czech language by Karel Čapek. It premiered in 1921 and is noted for introducing the term "robot". The play begins in a factory that makes artificial people called "robots." Unlike the modern usage of the term, these creatures are closer to the modern idea of androids or even clones, as they can be mistaken for humans and can think for themselves. They seem happy to work for humans, although that changes and a hostile robot rebellion leads to the extinction of the human race.
Slide 22 - 22 The word robot comes from the word robota meaning literally serf labor, and, figuratively, "drudgery" or "hard work" in Czech, Slovak and Polish. While it is frequently thought that Karel was the originator of the word, he wrote a short letter in reference to an article in the Oxford English Dictionary etymology in which he named his brother, painter and writer Josef Čapek, as its actual inventor. Click on the picture to see YouTube clip on the progression of the humanoid robot since Capek introduced the idea in 1921.
Slide 23 - 23 1926 Fritz Lang's movie "Metropolis" is released. "Maria" the female robot in the film is the first robot to be projected on the silver screen. Click on the picture to see a YouTube restored trailer for the original film.
Slide 24 - 24 1936 Alan Mathison Turing was an English mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst and computer scientist. He was highly influential in the development of computer science, providing a formalisation of the concept of the algorithm and computation with the Turing machine, which played a significant role in the creation of the modern computer. Turing machines, first described by him in 1936, are simple abstract computational devices intended to help investigate the extent and limitations of what can be computed. Turing, writing before the invention of the modern digital computer, was interested in the question of what it means to be computable. A task is computable if one can specify a sequence of instructions which when followed will result in the completion of the task. Such a set of instructions is called an effective procedure, or algorithm, for the task. Click on the picture to see a short YouTube video on Alan M Turing. Note the reference to the Apple logo.
Slide 25 - 25 1940 Issac Asimov produces a series of short stories about robots starting with "A Strange Playfellow" (later renamed "Robbie") for Super Science Stories magazine. The story is about a robot and its affection for a child that it is bound to protect. Over the next 10 years he produces more stories about robots that are eventually recompiled into the volume "I, Robot" in 1950. Asimov is generally credited with the popularization of the term "Robotics" which was first mentioned in his story "Runaround" in 1942. Issac Asimov's most important contribution to the history of the robot is the creation of his Three Laws of Robotics: 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 Law. Click on the picture of the 1st edition cover above to see a short YouTube video on Asimov.
Slide 26 - 26 Click on the picture above to see a YouTube discussion between Daniel Dennett and Roger Bingham on the merits of the Turing Test 1950 Alan Turing publishes Computing Machinery and Intelligence in which he proposes a test to determine whether or not a machine has gained the power to think for itself. It becomes known as the "Turing Test". The Turing test is a test of a machine's ability to exhibit intelligent behavior. A human judge engages in a natural language conversation with one human and one machine, each of which tries to appear human. All participants are separated from one another. If the judge cannot reliably tell the machine from the human, the machine is said to have passed the test. In order to test the machine's intelligence rather than its ability to render words into audio, the conversation is limited to a text-only channel such as a computer keyboard and screen.
Slide 27 - 27 Click on the picture above to see a rare YouTube clip from 1960 of the US Tonight Show hosted by Johnny Carson. Carson introduces Joseph Engelberger who demonstrates the Unimate which is programmed using lead through technique. 1960 The first industrial arm robot - the Unimate - is introduced. It is designed to complete repetitive or dangerous tasks on a General Motors assembly line. Unimate was the first industrial robot, which worked on a General Motors assembly line in New Jersey, in 1961. It was created by George Devol in the 1950s using his original patents. Devol, together with Joseph Engelberger, started Unimation the world's first robot manufacturing company. The machine undertook the job of transporting die castings from an assembly line and welding these parts on auto bodies—a dangerous task for workers, who might be poisoned by exhaust gas or lose a limb if they were not careful.
Slide 28 - 28 Click on the picture of Shakey above to see a YouTube clip explaining its place in the robot hall of fame. 1966 The Stanford Research Institute (later to be known as SRI Technology) creates Shakey the first mobile robot to know and react to its own actions. Shakey the Robot was the first general-purpose mobile robot to be able to reason about its own actions. While other robots would have to be instructed on each individual step of completing a larger task, Shakey could analyze the command and break it down into basic chunks by itself. Due to its nature, the project combined research in robotics, computer vision, and natural language processing. Because of this, it was the first project that melded logical reasoning and physical action.
Slide 29 - 29 Click on the picture above to see a YouTube clip explaining the history of computers and their role in robotics. 1969 Victor Scheinman, a Mechanical Engineering student working in the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab (SAIL) creates the Stanford Arm. The arm's design becomes a standard and is still influencing the design of robot arms today.
Slide 30 - 30 1977 Star Wars is released. George Lucas' movie about a universe governed by the force introduces watchers to R2-D2 and C-3PO. The movie creates the strongest image of a human future with robots since the 1960's and inspires a generation of researchers. Click on the picture alongside to see a YouTube clip featuring the original trailer from the movie.
Slide 31 - 31 1986 Honda begins a robot research program thats starts with the premise that the robot : "should coexist and cooperate with human beings, by doing what a person cannot do and by cultivating a new dimension in mobility to ultimately benefit society." Click on the picture of the evolution of Honda’s most advanced robot Asimov above to access the Honda YouTube channel.
Slide 32 - 32 1989 A walking robot named Genghis is unveiled by the Mobile Robots Group at MIT. It becomes known for the way it walks, popularly referred to as the "Genghis gait". Genghis was built at MIT to demonstrate the efficacy of using numerous small, light, mobile robots to explore the Martian surface. Click on the picture of Genghis above to see a YouTube clip of its first steps.
Slide 33 - 33 1996 Honda debuts the P3, shown second from right above, the fruit of its decade long effort to build a humanoid robot. The P-series is a chronological progression of prototype humanoid robots as developed by Honda. The research conducted allowed the eventual creation of ASIMO, pictured last on the right above. Click on the picture above to see a YouTube clip of the P3 in action.
Slide 34 - 34 1997 The NASA Pathfinder Mission lands on Mars. Its robotic rover Sojourner, rolls down a ramp and onto Martian soil in early July. It broadcast data from the Martian surface until September. After a few days on the Martian surface the NASA controllers turned on Sojourner's hazard avoidance system and asked it to start making some of its own decisions. This hazard avoidance system set the rover apart from all other machines that have explored space. Sojourner made trips between designated points without the benefit of detailed information to warn it of obstacles along the way. Click on the picture above to see an animated YouTube clip of the NASA Pathfinder Mission.
Slide 35 - 35 1998 Tiger Electronics introduces the Furby into the Christmas toy market. It quickly becomes "the toy" to get for the season. Using a variety of sensors this "animatronic pet" can react to its environment and communicate using over 800 phrases in English and their own language "Furbish". Click on the picture above to see one of the first Furby commercials.
Slide 36 - 36 1998 LEGO releases their first Robotics Invention SystemTM 1.0. LEGO names the product line MINDSTORMS after Seymour Papert's seminal work ‘Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas’ published in 1980. In this book Papert advocates constructionism, or learning through doing. Click on the picture above to see a clip from a special pre-release CD-ROM entitled "explore invent master" which was released as a teaser for the Lego Mindstorms series.
Slide 37 - 37 2000 Honda debuts the 12th version, since 1986, of it’s humanoid robot - ASIMO. The name is an acronym for "Advanced Step in Innovative MObility“ rather than a reference to Isaac Asimov. The robot has 7 DOF (Degrees of freedom) in each arm — two joints of 3 DOF, shoulder and wrist, giving "Six degrees of freedom" and 1 DOF at the elbow; 6 DOF in each leg — 3 DOF at the crotch, 2 DOF at the ankle and 1 DOF at the knee; and 3 DOF in the neck joint. The hands have 2 DOF — 1 DOF in each thumb and 1 in each finger. This gives a total of 34 DOF in all joints Click on the picture above to see a clip of Asimo in action,
Slide 38 - 38 2001 In August, the FDA clears the CyberKnife to treat tumours anywhere in the body. The CyberKnife system is a method of delivering radiotherapy, with the intention of targeting treatment more accurately than standard radiotherapy. Over 150 centres, featuring several generations of equipment, offer treatment around the world. Click on the picture above to see a the CyberKnife Patient Education Video
Slide 39 - 39 2004 Jan 4th - The NASA robot rover Spirit lands on Mars. Jan 23rd - The second rover - Opportunity safely lands on the Meridium Planum on Mars. NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Mission (MER) is an ongoing robotic space mission involving the two rovers. The mission's scientific objective was to search for and characterise a wide range of rocks and soils that hold clues to past water activity on Mars. Click on the picture above to see a short video explaining the NASA Mars Exploration Rover Mission.
Slide 40 - 40 2007 Since 2006, awards have been given by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade & Industry for ‘Robot of the Year’. The 2007 winner was the work-horse, industrial robot from Fanuc Ltd. called M-430iA. This multi-axis, greaseless (and therefore sanitary) robot is part of a food and pharmaceutical handling system. This robot can work non-stop, 24 hours a day, accurately picking up 120 items per minute as they roll down a conveyor belt. It employs the rapidly developing technology of Machine Vision to pick the items regardless of their position on the conveyor. Click on the picture above to see a short video of the M-430iA in action.
Slide 41 - 41 2008 The 2008 winner was the Takara Tomy’s Omnibot 17μ i-SOBOT. The i-SOBOT is the world’s smallest humanoid that’s aimed at a mass market. The Japanese government praised its low price of around $350 and its advanced technology. Click on the picture above to see a short video of the i-SOBOT in action.
Slide 42 - 42 2009 The 2009 winner was the Omni Zero 1000 transformer robot. The Omni Zero 1000 can walk and turn itself into a car and roll along the floor. Originally made for Robot One, a robot competition held twice a year, the robot can also transform itself into various shapes. When in walking mode, the robot can open its head section to reveal a seat and carry a human occupant or more often its creator Takeshi Maeda. Click on the picture to see a short video of the Japan Robot Show 2009.
Slide 43 - 43 2010 What does the future hold for robotics? The general trend for computers seems to be faster processing speed, greater memory capacity and so on. One would assume that the robots of the future would become closer and closer to the decision-making ability of humans and also more independent. Presently the most powerful computers can't match the mental ability of a low-grade animal. It will be a long time until we're having conversations with androids and have them do all our housework. Another difficult design aspect about androids is their ability to walk around on two legs like humans. A robot with biped movement is much more difficult to build then a robot with, say, wheels to move around with. The reason for this is that walking takes so much balance. When you lift your leg to take a step you instinctively shift your weight to the other side by just the right amount and are constantly alternating your centre of gravity to compensate for the varying degrees of leg support. If you were to simply lift your leg with the rest of your body remaining perfectly still you would likely fall down. Try a simple test by standing with one shoulder and one leg against a wall. Now lift your outer leg and observe as you start to fall over ! Click on the picture to see a short video of the 2010 Robot Review.