The first robots, you maybe surprised to find, were developed centuries ago. Leonardo Da Vinci had designed many automated machines, but long before him, people had been designing machines that could perform a certain action on their own. But the field of robotics as we know it today only started about half a century ago. It has been one of the few gifts of the industrial age to humanity. Many nerdy men have helped the field of robotics to grow and expand rapidly in the last few decades. Here are 8 such men who have made robotics what it is today.
8. Ernst Dickmanns
Ernst Dickmanns is a German roboticist and a pioneer in dynamic computer vision and driverless cars. He started work on a driverless car as far back as 1980, using cameras mounted on a Mercedes-Benz van and controllers for steering, gas and brakes. He later developed the robot car VaMoRs that could drive itself up to speeds of almost 100 km/hr.
7. Mark Tilden
Mark Tilden is a roboticist and physicist from USA but was born in UK and brought up in Canada. He developed BEAM robotics and WowWee Robosapien, which is a humanoid robot that can replicate human movements using simple analogue logic circuits. He has created many other robots that include B.I.O Bugs, Constructobots, Roboraptor, Robopet, Roboreptile, Roboquad, Roboboa, Femisapien and Roomscooper, a floor cleaning robot.
6. Gerd Hirzinger
Gerd Hirzinger is a German engineer who worked for the German Aerospace Center. In 1976 he became the head of the automation and robotics department in the German Aerospace Center. His work has been acknowledged as pioneering in the field of robotics and he has published more than 600 papers on the topics of robot sensing, sensory feedback, mechatronics, man machine interfaces, telerobotics, and space robotics.
5. Kim Jong-Hwan
Kim Jong-Hwan is known as the father of Robot Football. He is a Korean engineer in electronics engineering and computer science and is considered a pioneer in the field of ubiquitous robotics and soccer robotics. He helped create the micro robot world cup soccer tournament. Teaching robots to play soccer on their own helps in learning about artificial intelligence and how machines can be taught to learn from experience.
4. Masahiro Mori
Masahiro Mori is a Japanese roboticist who works mainly in the field of human and robot interaction and the emotional response of humans to non human entities. He is also known for his views about religion and robotics. His students have also gone on to do pioneering work in robotics such as designing the ASIMO humanoid robot of Honda.
3. Shigeo Hirose
Shigeo Hirose is another Japanese engineer and roboticist and a professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. He has worked in the field of robot movement and his work is considered very pioneering. He has created robots that can walk, crawl, swim and even slither like a snake. He has also created a robot that can climb buildings and one that can climb mountain slopes and install bolts to prevent land slides. He is also working on a robot that can clear landmines.
2. George Devol
George Devol is an American inventor who filed the patent for Unimate which was the first industrial robot. The initial development of robots in 1940s and 50s was to help in increasing industrial output and Devol’s mechanical arm is considered to be the first real step in the direction of robots. It was the first programmable robotic arm and laid the foundation of the robotics industry.
1. Joseph Engelberger
Despite Devol’s groundbreaking product, he’s not considered the father of robotics. That honor goes to Joseph Engelberger, an American physicist, engineer and entrepreneur. He licensed Devol’s patent to develop Unimate and founded Unimation Inc. in 1956. He worked later as an advocate for robotic technology and suggested that it could be used beyond the manufacturing sector and in fields such as health care, service industries and space exploration. He also founded HelpMate Robotics Inc. which built the HelpMate robotic courier to work in hospitals around the world.