Why Was the Robotic Arm Invented? – Fascinating Engineering

Immediately, we use robotic arms for every thing from constructing a pc’s motherboard to aiding with open coronary heart surgical procedure. We have come a good distance from the primary incarnation of robotic arms.

After they first grew to become obtainable in 1954, these arms had been managed with digital servo motors, programmed with paper tapes and had been solely able to rudimentary instructions. Let’s check out the historical past of robotic arms, and the place the expertise goes sooner or later.


1480 — da Vinci and Innovation

The idea of robotic arms is not a brand new one. It dates again to the late 1400s. Within the 1950s, researchers learning Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks discovered drawings and sketches of every thing from robotic arms to finish humanoid collectible figurines that would have theoretically run on the clockwork applied sciences obtainable on the time.

These units used pulleys, weights, and gears to supply semi-autonomous movement, centuries earlier than we ever imagined utilizing them for meeting or manufacturing. A 2002 prototype of this robotic knight, based mostly on da Vinci’s blueprints, proved the idea — the knight might stroll and wave with none intervention from its operator.

1954 — Paper Tape and Beginnings

4 years earlier than inventors filed the primary robotic arm patent, Isaac Asimov printed I, Robotic, and launched the world to the Three Legal guidelines of Robotics:

-A robotic might not injure a human being or, by inaction, permit a human to come back to hurt.

-A robotic should obey orders from people, besides the place such directions would battle with the First Regulation.

-A robotic should shield its existence so long as such safety doesn’t battle with the First or Second Legal guidelines.

Impressed by these legal guidelines, and using robotics within the guide, engineer Joseph Engelberger and inventor George Devol filed for a patent for a programmed article switch machine — the primary incarnation of the robotic arm. The purpose was a model of the medical Hippocratic Oath, to do no hurt, using these robots in positions that might usually be dangerous to people.

By 1961, Basic Motors employed roughly 450 of those robotic arms of their diecasting plant in Trenton, N.J.

1961 — Unimation, Inc. and the Tonight Present

In 1961, Devol and Engelberger launched Unimation, Inc. — an organization targeted on the creation of business robots. The Unimate 1900, the identical easy arm employed within the GM diecasting manufacturing unit, grew to become the corporate’s flagship.

Engelberger showcased it at a commerce present at Cow Palace in Chicago, and even took it on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Present, the place the robotic wowed viewers with its potential to knock a golf ball right into a cup, pour a beer and likewise conduct the present’s band!

These methods gained over the viewers and introduced the idea of business robotics into the minds of the nation.

1963 — The Rancho Arm

Automotive manufacturing is not the one software for robotic arms. In 1963, researchers on the Rancho Los Amigos Hospital developed the Rancho Arm to assist transfer disabled sufferers. It was the primary computer-controlled robotic arm and was outfitted with six joints to let it transfer like a human arm.

1966 — Increasing Their Borders

Not content material with introducing industrial robotics to america manufacturing market, Engelberger traveled to Tokyo, Japan, in 1966 to lecture about his creations.

His viewers was 700 sturdy, and after a two-hour Q&A, he grew to become satisfied Japan was the subsequent worthwhile marketplace for Unimation. In 1967, Unimation partnered with Kawasaki Plane and Kawasaki Heavy Industries to market and produce their robots in Japan. These two Japanese firms are the ancestors of Japan’s Kawasaki Robotics, which nonetheless exists at the moment.

1968 — Marvin Minsky’s Tentacle Arm

Taking a web page from the Rancho Arm’s playbook, Marvin Minsky created the Minsky Tentacle Arm. This robotic arm had 12 joints, and customers might management it with a pc or a joystick. Minsky designed the arm to be used in medication slightly than manufacturing, able to lifting an individual however light sufficient to take action with out harming them.

1969 — Home Progress and Competitors

In 1969, Unimation, Inc. obtained an enormous order from GM. The automotive producer was rebuilding its plant in Lordstown, Ohio, with the purpose of making probably the most automated automotive plant on this planet. By the point the manufacturing unit was up and operating, it was able to producing 110 vehicles each hour. This fee was greater than double the manufacturing fee of another plant on the time.

This productiveness leap inspired different automobile producers, from BMW and Volvo to Leyland, Fiat and Mercedes-Benz, to do the identical, successfully securing Unimation’s European market within the course of.

1969 additionally proved to be the final 12 months Unimation had a monopoly over the robotics market. Nachi Robotics launched an industrial robotics program in 1969 in Tokyo.

1973 — KUKA and Six-Axel Robotic Arms

In 1973, Germany joined the robotic arms race. Its firm, known as Kuka, developed the primary industrial robotic arm pushed by six electromagnetic axels. Dubbed “Famulus,” this robotic arm was the primary of its variety, shifting the trade away from the normal hydraulically operated arms.

1974 — A Increase within the Robotic Arm Trade

1974 was an thrilling 12 months for robotics. David Silver, on the time a scholar at MIT, invented the Silver Arm. Designed for small elements meeting, it was the primary robotic arm to function contact sensors to supply tactile suggestions to its operator.

Additionally, Stanford College mechanical engineering scholar Victor Scheinman created an analogous arm, often known as the Stanford Arm, which an organization known as Vicarm, Inc. marketed. On this similar 12 months, FANUC — Manufacturing unit Automation Numerical Management — developed and put in robotic arms for meeting of their manufacturing unit in Japan.

1977 — Introductions and European Versatility

Yaskawa Robotics launched its first robotic arm in 1977 — the Motoman L10. This robotic had 5 axes and will manipulate as much as 10 kilograms, or 22 kilos. ASEA additionally launched two electrical industrial robots which had been programmable with microcomputers. Unimation bought Vicarm towards the tip of this 12 months as properly.

1978-1979 — Unions and Programmable Machines

The brand new alliance between Unimation and Vicarm proved fruitful. In 1978, they created the PUMA — Programmable Common Machine for Meeting. This meeting robotic continues to be in use in lots of analysis labs to this present day. In 1979, Nachi additionally developed a motor-driving arm explicitly designed for spot-welding.

1980s — Trade Progress

Whereas 1974 may need been an thrilling 12 months for robotics, the 1980s proved to be probably the most important decade for trade progress. In 1980, robotics startups or new robots hit the market almost each month.

1981 introduced concerning the introduction of the primary direct-drive arm — a robotic arm with motors put in instantly into every of its joints. It was probably the most correct robotic arm of its time.

1981 additionally noticed the introduction of pneumatic robotic arms — ones that use compressed air as a substitute of electrical energy or hydraulic fluid.

In 1985, OTC Daihen started supplying robots to the Miller Electronics firm, and ASEA and BBC Brown Boveri Ltd. merged right into a single firm with every member holding half of the corporate’s property. Nachi established a department in america, and Yaskawa Robotics launched a brand new management laptop that was able to controlling as much as 12 axes at a time.

1990s — Clever Robots

1992 noticed the introduction of the world’s first clever robotic prototype, which got here out of FANUC’s Robotic College that was established the identical 12 months. The Motoman ERC, which initially grew to become obtainable in 1985, received upgraded in 1994 to have the ability to deal with as much as 21 axes.

It quickly misplaced floor to the XRC controller, which might management as much as 27 axes throughout as much as four robots. This controller debuted in 1998, backed by Honda to be used of their factories.

Robotic arms additionally noticed the primary functions in prosthetics on this decade. In 1993, a Scottish man named Campbell Aird obtained the primary cybernetic robotic arm after he misplaced his arm to muscular most cancers in 1982. Aird might manipulate this arm by flexing the muscle groups in his shoulder.

2000s — Innovation Into the Trendy Day

The 2000s, by at the moment, have confirmed to be probably the most thrilling time for the robotics trade. Advances in expertise enabled robots to change into much more environment friendly and efficient of their duties.

2000 noticed the introduction of the da Vinci Surgical System — a set of robotic arms able to exact microsurgery. To this point, this method has been put in in additional than 1,700 hospitals and carried out three-quarters of one million surgical procedures.

Practically each automotive producer on this planet now has robotic arms put in in its factories, dashing up the meeting course of. In a single shift, the common manufacturing unit can now assemble greater than 200 vehicles — greater than 600 in the event that they run the manufacturing unit 24/7.

The historical past of the robotic arm is lengthy and different, from da Vinci’s authentic designs to the superior robotics which can be widespread at the moment. Proper now, robots are roaming the surfaces of planets in our photo voltaic system, amassing knowledge that may advance our information of our universe for years to come back.

The functions for these robotic arms will proceed to develop and evolve, and our imaginations will solely restrict its potential functions. We won’t wait to see the place this expertise goes sooner or later!

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