actual use of mechanical means to accomplish tasks can be traced back
to ancient history with the water clock invented in 250 B.C. by Ctesibius
of Alexandria, a Greek inventor. Nicola Tesla, the inventor of AC electricity
and radio, developed remote control vehicles in the late 1800's. In
the 50s and 60s, when computing and mechanical research benefited from
the postwar boom, the actual study of robotics began to become more
practical. After numerous attempts at creating robots with television
cameras, wheels, and sensing devices, Joe Engelberger, called the "father
of robotics", founded the Unimatics Company, and mass produced
the Unimate. The most common "real robot" is the
robotic arm, which has been a vital part of automobile manufacturing
since 1962, when the Unimate was used by GM for auto assembly. In 1970,
when the technology was developed at Stanford university for the Stanford
Arm, the benchmark was created for all future robotic arms. The arm
is composed of jointed sections, which are computer controlled to perform
a number of machining tasks. The arm is a "specific task"
robot and is the first universally accepted piece of robotic hardware
to go "mainstream" in the workplace.
Real robots are
not "humanoid" for the most part. Each machine has been developed,
mainly through trial and error, to perform a certain task, and the shape
and operation conforms to that task.
In the 60s, when "Shakey" was created, these bulky "robots"
were boxy, moved about on wheels, and did not conform to any set design
strategy. The wheeled robot is used mainly today for detection and remote
control. Police and fire departments, and especially the military, use
robotic machines extensively to operate in hazardous locations where
humans are at risk.
Robots are all
around, but since they don't "look like" what is generally
perceived to be "robots" they are largely ignored by the populace
at large. Until the "mechanical men" of films and literature
arrive, we have to be content with these largely unappealing automatons
which cannot even speak. Human speech replication was achieved by the
Texas Instruments company in 1976, and the technology was used on the
TI learning product for children called the "Speak And Spell".
Voice replication is currently more at use in telephone answering machines
than on robotic machinery, however, and most of the "real robots"
don't look, or talk, like humans.
Other uses for
real robots, besides manufacturing and in police and military applications,
are in the medical industry, where the use of robotics is practiced
in operations where very small procedures have to be performed. Robots
can fly, too. Spy planes are robotic. Any time remote control and sensing
can be adapted to a vehicle, like an unmanned automobile, these are
basically robotic. Robots have been around us for many years, but we
don't feel that they have "arrived" until they look like us.
Electro the Robot was a hit at the 1939 New York World's Fair because
he resembled a human being with a head, a body, and arms and legs. Shakey
didn't look like a human being, and everybody "remembers"
Electro, but Shakey's history is shaky at best in the minds of the general
"Police Robot" combines the "arm" with a track
and wheel base so it can move around, and perform a remote task
when arriving at it's destination.
"Military Robot"comes equipped with weaponry, and moves
about like a small tank. These robots are designed to go where real
men would most certainly be at risk of certain death.
Friendly Robotics RL800 Robomower is convenient, easy, robotic, and
clean--and it transforms the world of yard work! Push a single button
and the Robomower cuts the grass on almost any surface--all by itself.
Designed for one-time set-up, the included instructional video and well-written
manual make set-up easy. It works in almost any lawn or garden environment,
with wire sensors that prevent it from crossing the lawn perimeter.
It even recycles clippings into nutrient-rich mulch for healthier grass.
you're set, and the mower is on, the machine simply senses the perimeter
wire and uses three mulching blades to cut down everything inside the
wire. Thanks to the onboard computer, the Robomower can even learn parts
of your yard as it mows, making it quicker next time. The mower is quiet,
automatic, and the mulching blades mean that when it's done you don't
need to bag or rake.
Robomower is outfitted with safety features. It won't run at all if
it's flipped over with the blades exposed. Likewise, it reverses if
its soft 360-degree bumpers encounter any foreign object. A theft deterrent
system keeps the unit safe. The Robomower is very quiet compared to
other lawn mowers. The mower works best on level yards as large as 3,200
square feet, with the grass reasonably tame to begin with. It is not
designed for hilly yards. While it takes a full day to recharge the
battery, a full charge is enough to mow most lawns. This is no lightweight
toy. The robotic lawnmower weighs in at a hefty 98 pounds!
Robomower is a smart idea for folks with physical conditions that make
strenuous activities like mowing difficult, but it's also a great product
for anyone who feels like there's always something better to do with
a weekend afternoon than mowing the lawn. Rechargeable battery pack
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the Real Robots Section of the RoboBooks website.)
used in the research and construction of this page include Adam
Currie's History of Robots,
Real Robots in the Home from Robobooks.The
Computer History Timeline, and the Wikpedia
Free Online Encyclopedia.