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A Brief History of Robotics

History of Robotics

The word ‘robot’ comes from the Czech word ‘robata’, meaning ‘slave labor’ or ‘forced lab our’. It was first used in 1921 by Karel Capek in his satirical drama ‘Rossum’s Universal Robots’. Capeks robots had arms and legs like humans, but worked twice as hard. The term ‘robotics’ was first used by an American, Isaac Asimov in his short story ‘Runaround’. This story introduced the ‘three rules of robotics’:

A robot may not injure a human being, or through inaction, allow one to come to harm.

A robot must obey the orders given to 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 and second laws.

For a robot to be able to adhere to these rules it would have to be very advanced. Such a robot would not be practical to produce using today’s technology, so for now, robots will just be doing the job they were made for and nothing else.

The number of robots in the United States almost doubled in the 1990s, with robots doing an increasing number of diverse jobs. It is predicted that robot technology will become more available for everyday household and small business functions. This will create a need for innovative ways of integrating robots into increasingly technology dependent lives. Currently most advanced robots are custom made for a particular task and expensive to produce. Other robots are designed simplistically as toys or gadgets, and as such are mass produced and relatively cheap to produce. As technology progresses robots will become cheaper and more advanced. This will allow for them to be owned by the average individual, and we will start seeing them in homes quite soon.

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