Early Modern Developments Of Robots



Before discussing the early modern developments of robots, let us first have a brief look at what is a robot and also some examples describing robot before the early modern developments of real robots began.


Robot can be defined as a mechanical and artificial agent performing functions on its own. In real practice, robots are generally electro-mechanical machines which are guided by a computer to accomplish tasks on its own. The common feature of robots is that through its physical appearance, it often suggests a sense that it has objective or agency of its own.


Before the beginning of the era which witnessed the early modern developments of robots, there are few incidents which tell us about the presence of robots many centuries back. In the 4th century BC, there was a great mathematician of Greece named as Archytas of Tarentum who hypothesized a mechanical steam-operated bird and called it as ‘The Pigeon’.


Another example which testifies the presence of robots before the early modern developments of real robots is the creation of various user-configurable automated devices by Heron of Alexandria during 10–70 AD. He described machines in which the sources of power were air pressure, steam and water. Su Song from china also invented a clock tower in 1088 which featured mechanical figurines that used to chime every hour.


The early modern developments of robots began in 1495 when Leonardo da Vinci made sketches of his plans for a humanoid robot.  This was evident from the Vinci's notebooks which were rediscovered during the time period of 1950s. These notebooks which had detailed drawings of a mechanical knight which is now termed as Leonardo's robot, which show uniqueness like the ability to sit up, waving its arms and moving its head and jaw.


This design made by Leonardo da Vinci was probably based on anatomical research recorded in his Vitruvian Man. However it is not very clear whether he tried to create it or not.


Jacques de Vaucanson in the years 1738 and 1739, demonstrated various life-sized automatons: a flute player, a pipe player and a duck. This mechanical duck had characteristics like flapping wings, crane its neck and ability to swallow food from the exhibitor's hand, and it presented an illusion that it was digesting its food by excreting matter stored in a hidden compartment. The early modern developments of real robots also witnessed the creation of complex mechanical toys and animals which were made in Japan in the 1700s which were known as Karakuri zui.