An introduction to Robotics

Lecture 1: A field guide to common robots


January 2016

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The word robot originates from the Czech word ROBOTA, meaning 'serf' or 'slave'. Karel Capek drama - Rossum's Universal Robots. (R.U.R.) 1921.


Perhaps a robot should ...

History (early)

Talos mythical golden robot built by Hephaistos was fabled to roam the island of Crete
222BC Ktesibios/Tesibuis. Water clocks and regulators.
10-70 Heron of Alexandria. Self opening temple doors, theatrical robots
1200 al-Jazari. Named after region in Iraq. Boat full of musical automata for drinks party!
1515 Leonardo da Vinci's Lion (Codex Atlanticus)
1739 Vaucanson's Duck
1770's Jaquet-Droz 'scribe'. Clockwork automa capable of writing, drawing and playing music.
1770 The Turk ( von Kempelen) - Certainly a good example of telemanipulation!
1817 Frankenstein - Mary Shelly influenced by Jaquet-Droz automata!
1864 US patent with the word "Android"

History (recent)

1920 R.U.R published
1927 Metropolis (Fitts Lang)
1929 Gakutensoku Japan's first robot
1937 Electro/Elektro - Westinghouse (later appears in 'sex kittens go to college' 1960)
1940's Mechanically coupled 'master-slave' manipulators. (Goertz)
1949 Grey Walter's robots (Elmer and Elsie)
1952 Astro boy
1954 First patent - George C. Devol, Jr.
1960 General Electric Handyman/Hardyman. (Mosher)

1966 Shakey
1969 General Electric Walking truck.
1959 Unimation Inc. introduce first industrial robot.
1969 Stanford Arm- Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.
1980's NASA Canada arm
1996 First Mars mobile robot
2004 Second Mars rover (Spirit survives to March 2010, Opportunity still going)
2005 DARPA Grand challenge
2008 MOD Grand challenge
2012 DARPA robotics challenge/Curiosity rover lands on Mars
2016 Rubics cube solved in 0.9 seconds
2016 Jibo, first social robot for the home, due to be released
20xx First cyborg, first robot to give evidence in court, first robot to be confused for a human.

Vaucanson's Duck

The scribe (1770)

Grey Walter 1949

M. Specularis

M. Specularis

Walking truck Handyman/Hardyman

Metropolis (Robot version of Maria)

Pettit Mal (Simon Penny)

Show Pettit Mal video

Human -- robot interactions

Begin Robotics, websites and books

Book list at

Much material on youtube use search terms from the lecture notes, e.g. "Big Dog", "Google car" etc