History of Robots

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The word ‘Robot’ brings to our minds images of Terminator like beings walking the Earth, or houses automated by multiple machines such as in the Jetsons. However, the scientific definition behind this diverse concept is actually far simpler. Wikipedia defines a Robot as “A mechanical device that can perform tasks automatically”, in other words it is a machine which may or may not resemble a human but performs actions on its own.
With this understanding in mind, it is not surprising that simple Robots were actually developed as early as 350 BC. We will embark on a journey to discover how robots evolved from a simple mechanical pigeon to a vehicle named Curiosity which has explored the surface of Mars.

NASA- A Short History of Robots: A brief timeline of robots plus additional information on the important robots in space.
Canadian Space Agency â€" A History of Robots (.pdf file): A document which provides the history of robots through different periods of history.
Robot Shop: The Learning Center of the Robot Shop which provides a history of robots including a Timeline, a Robot Hall of fame and other articles.

Early Robots
The first robot in history may have had a boring name but ‘The Pigeon’ was propelled by steam and considered to be one of the first model airplanes. It was created by Archytas, a Greek Mathematician in 350 B.C. From there, water clocks, Leonardo’s Robot and other automated instruments followed.
Robotics: A brief history of robots presented in as a timeline. Also includes information on building robots.
Science Kids: Technology facts about the history of robots presented in an easy to read timeline for kids.
Wise Geek - What is the History of Robotics: A brief history of robotics starting from Ancient Greek Mythology, the Industrial Revolution and the Modern Era.
Bloomberg Businessweek Magazine: A look into the history of robots from the definition of robots to modern day expectations of automation.

Science Fiction’s Robots
As the research and development of robots increased in the real world, robots began to take a more prominent role in science fiction, both in literature and the movies. Classic literature such as Homer and the Iliad had statues coming to life while stories in the horror genre told stories of tragic monsters such as Frankenstein. Films portrayed robots even before the term was defined and many robot movies went on to become huge blockbuster epics including Terminator and Transformers. A few of the most popular robots in Science Fiction are:

The Tin Woodman: Actually a cyborg, the Tin Woodman from The Wizard of Oz embodied a trait that has been the Achilles Heel of robots â€" the ability to feel human emotions. Considering that he first made his appearance in 1939, he was a model cyborg for others to imitate through the decades.

R2-D2 and C-3P0: Extremely important sidekicks, both these robots played key roles in the Star Wars franchise. The first movie of this series was originally released in 1977.

Transformers: The toy line of transformers was launched in 1984 which spawned off years of TV shows, movies and comic books. They made robots cool by turning into giant trucks and commanding a fleet of other transformers.
Slippery Brick: A look at the 54 most famous sci-fi robots with descriptions and pictures of each one
Io9: Killing machines â€" a countdown of science fiction’s 10 most murderous robots.
Technovelgy: Where science meets fiction â€" a simple list of robots in science fiction. The list includes links to the robots, the author, and publication date.
Robot Books: A list of the most popular books which have robots as key players in the story. The list includes a brief synopsis of each of the books.

Famous Real World Robots
The list of robots that keep pushing the limits of human imagination is endless. However, robots which have actually been developed and are practical for personal, business, or scientific purposes are less in number. Here are a few of the most famous robots that have made an impact in the real world:

Elsie and Elmer: Created in 1940 and taking on a relatively unique shape of tortoise robots, these were the first fully autonomous robots. They could detect light, find their charging stations and turn if an object was in their path.

Sony Aibo: Introduced in 1999, the Sony Aibo is a robot dog which caught the imagination of all those who wished to have a personal robot at home. Though more of a toy it is technologically able to walk, see its environment, and understand verbal commands.

NASA’s Curiosity: Perhaps one of the most interesting robots of modern times, NASA’s Curiosity was launched on November 2011. It’s approximately the size of a car and was sent to Mars with the mission of finding out if life ever existed on the planet.
The 50 Best Robots Ever: A mixture of both fictional and non-fictional robots, this is an excellent list of robots which have caught the imagination of fans.
Oracle Thinkquest â€" Robotics: A look at how modern robotics is achieving the ability to use ‘senses’ as humans do.
Extreme Tech: The Real Life Avatar â€" the first mind controlled robot surrogate
Cracked on Robots - 5 real robots that are built to love you.

Other Resources:
It seems the field of robotics can only be limited by the limits of the human imagination. Here are a few more resources which provide information in to the history and future of robots.
Mechanical Marvels of the Ninteenth Century: An extensive collection of images and information on Victorian Era robots.
Spectrum IEEE: The future of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence
Institute for Global Futures: Robot futures â€" is a robot in your future?
Smart Planet: Predicting the future of robots
PopSci: The future of robots and how the boundary between man and machine is disappearing
RobotWorx: An extremely comprehensive timeline of robots and their history.

Robotics and Automation around Australia

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