History of Robots, Evolution, Timeline

History of robots, evolution, timeline: ancient history, 725-1773, 19th century, 20th century, the origin of word robot, 2000-2020.

History of Robots, Evolution, Timeline
History of Robots, Evolution, Timelin


Modern robots have a lot in common with toddlers: Watching them fall is entertaining, but we all understand that if we chuckle too hard, they’ll acquire a problem and grow to instigate World War III. 

No other human creation elicits such a perplexing mix of wonder, adoration, and fear: We desire robots to improve lives and safety, but we can’t seem to put our faith in them. We’re making them in our image, but we’re afraid they’ll take our place.

However, the expanding field of robots is unaffected by this apprehension. Robots have finally progressed to the point that they are cleverly sufficient, fully able enough to leave factories and labs and walk, roll, and even jump among humans. 

The equipment has arrived. We understand if you’re concerned that a robot will take your job. After all, this is capitalism, and automation is unavoidable. Even great news: you’re more likely to befriend a robot than to be murdered by one. Cheers to the future!

What exactly are robots, and what can they accomplish?

Robots are robots that can do complicated tasks on their own. The three primary components of robots are sensors such as cameras, lidar, or microphones, actuators such as motors or synthetic muscles, and controllers.

People can control robots remotely, but they are usually controlled partially or totally by computers, rendering them independent.

In fiction, robots usually resemble humans, having two arms, two legs, and ahead with cameras for eyes. In actuality, most robot shapes are tailored to their intended purpose. Many air conditioners are self-contained robots that change fan settings and air deflectors and convert from cooling to heating on their own.

Computers modify engine settings, brakes, steering, and suspension in reaction to your driving in all current automobiles. The most sophisticated self-driving cars are even beginning to take over parts of your driving duties.

The Brief History of Robots

From the outset, the definition of “robot” has been ambiguous. The term was used initially in Karel Capek’s drama R.U.R., or Rossum’s Universal Robots, in 1921. 

On the other hand, these robots were robots in spirit rather than form. They had the appearance of people, but instead of metal, they were constructed of chemical batter. Robots were significantly more efficient than humans, but they were also a lot more murderous—they went on a murdering spree.

The cliché of the Not-to-Be-Trusted Machine would be established by R.U.R., which isn’t to say that pop culture hasn’t welcomed kinder robots. Consider the character Rosie from The Jetsons. And the part of the Bicentennial Man is played by Robin Williams, a family favorite.

The real-life and fictional definitions of “robot” are both unclear. You’ll get ten top answers if you ask ten roboticists what autonomous it must be. They agree on a few significant ideas: A robot is an intelligent machine that is physically embodied. A robot can do activities independently to some extent. A robot can also sense and change its environment.

Robotics in the Past

Robots were popular in ancient and medieval periods, according to several sources. Simple automatons were created by the ancient Greeks and Romans to be used as tools, toys, and sacred rituals. Hephaestus, the Greek God, is said to have manufactured automatons to labor in his workshop before contemporary robots were invented. Regrettably, none of the early automatons has survived.

Automatons were used as elements of clocks and religious devotion in both Europe and the Middle East during the Middle Ages. Al-Jazari (1136-1206), an Arab polymath, left manuscripts detailing and depicting his mechanical gadgets, which included a gigantic elephant clock that moved & sounded at the hour, a melodic robot band, and a drink-serving waitress automaton.

A living mechanical monk in Europe embraces the cross with his hands. Many other automata with moving animals and humanoid figures were produced. Still, by the 18th century, robots had become well known, and technology had evolved to the point that considerably more complicated pieces could be made. 

The first effective biomechanical robot, a human figure playing the flute, was created by French engineer Jacques de Vaucanson. The Robots were so famous that they went around Europe, entertaining leaders of power like Frederick the Great and Napoleon Bonaparte.


Our society may be filled with increasingly complex machines, but they must grow more self-sufficient for robots to be beneficial. After all, it’d be hard to program a household robot with grasping instructions for every object it may come across. You want it to learn independently, which is where artificial intelligence technology comes in.

Take, for example, Brett. At a UC Berkeley facility, the humanoid robot has trained itself to solve one of those children’s puzzles where you push pegs into various holes. It achieved it by employing a trial-and-error method known as reinforcement learning. Nobody instructed it how to put a square peg in a square hole; all it knew was that it had to.

Brett discovered something new on its own by performing random motions and obtaining a digital reward as it got closer to success. Sure, the process is slow, but roboticists will gradually increase the robots’ ability to teach themselves new skills in different situations, which is crucial if we don’t want to babysit them.

Another alternative is to simulate a robot train first and then transfer what it has learned to a real robot in the lab. Researchers at Google programmed a virtual dog using motion-capture footage, then used reinforcement learning to teach a simulated four-legged robot to make the same moves.

Even though they have four legs, the robot’s body is technically different from that of a dog; therefore, they move in distinct ways. On the other hand, the simulated robot was able to equal the simulated dog in terms of rewards after a series of random maneuvers.

The researchers then tested their findings on a real robot in the lab, which was able to walk—in fact, it walked faster than the robot’s default gait, although it was less stable.

Robots in Victorian Times:

The Industrial Revolution and the Victorian era’s increasing emphasis on arithmetic, engineering, and science in England accelerated the development of robotics. 

Charles Babbage (1791-1871) tried to lay a foundation of computer science in the early to mid century, with his most successful attempts being the split motor and the analytic engine. 

These two machines, which were never completed owing to a lack of finances, provided the groundwork for mechanical computations. Others, like Ada Lovelace, saw computers as having the potential to create visuals or play music in the future.

During the nineteenth century, automata continued to give amusement. Still, the introduction of steam-powered machinery and engines coincided with this time, which helped to make production much more efficient and speedy.

Machines were introduced into factories to either increase workloads or improve precision in manufacturing a variety of items.

Timeline of Robotics

Timeline history of robots-Chronology
Timeline history of robots-Chronology

The history of robotics is intertwined with technology, science, and development’s essential ideas. Computing technology, electricity, and even pneumatics and hydraulics may be regarded as part of robotics history. As a result, the timeline depicted is far from complete.

Robotics is now one of humanity’s most outstanding achievements, and it is the single most significant endeavor to create an artificial, sentient person. 

This timeline aims to provide readers with a broad overview of robotics and show respect for the inventors and pioneers who have contributed to robotics becoming what it is today.

Ancient History

Robots, which were initially an Italian Renaissance word for a mechanical system propelled by water, wind, or machinery, were the forerunners to robots in ancient times. The plural form of the phrase Automaton evolved to denote a self-operating machine, which is occasionally expanded to include robots.

Automata have been created and manufactured since the dawn of recorded history. Clocks set for mechanical operations at specified times and a statue capable of standing from a seated posture and pouring beverages for Pharaoh Ptolemy II by Ctesibius of Alexandria in the 3rd Century BC are early examples.

In 1206 AD, northern Mesopotamian scholar and engineer Ibn Ismail ibn al-Razzaz al-Jazari devised and built a functional automata boat with four programmed humanoid automata musicians; about 1495, Leonardo da Vinci designed an automata knight for robotic warfare.

The Notre Dame Cathedral in Strasbourg, France, houses an extant specimen of automata. It was made by Jean-Baptiste Schwilgué between 1836 and 1843 and is the third in a series of robots/clocks in the cathedral.

The Golem of central European Jewish mythology was another common notion for a man-servant made of inanimate stuff. According to legend, Golem was a man-made counterpart of God’s clay-sculpted Adam. Man developed Golem to serve him in the field, doing the tiresome task so that he could spend more time doing other things.

The Golem was built so that it could not hurt humans, a notion that continues in modern robotics and was defined by Isaac Asimov in the twentieth century. 

However, because man rather than God created the Golem, it had flaws, including injuring its owner. The traditional tales were initially published in Gustav Meyrink’s 1915 novel “Der Golem,” which was based on Judah Low ben Bezalel’s documentation of folklore.

In the early twentieth century, the Meyrink novelette inspired a series of expressionistic silent films. A now-famous movie from 1920 that heralds the dawn of the contemporary robot age.

Robots History 725 to 1773


Chinese engineer Liang Lingzan and Buddhist monk Yi Xing create a water-powered gadget with the world’s first clockwork chronograph movement mechanism — the first actual mechanical clock.


Al-book Jazari’s Knowledge of Innovative Mechanical Machines details fifty devices in fact, including an automated female who served refreshments and a “robot band” of four automated performers.


Automated carillons appear in the Netherlands. In the form of an armored Germanic warrior, Leonardo da Vinci, an Italian artist and inventor, developed the first humanoid robot in Modern civilization in 1495.


Hans Bullmann, a German professor, creates humanoid androids that play musical instruments.


For protecting the Jews of Prague from anti-Semitic violence, Czech Rabbi Judah Loew of Prague is supposed to have summoned to life a clay figure known as the Golem.


In Japan, mechanized puppets called “Karakuri Ningyo” arise, each designed to execute specific activities such as pouring tea or writing calligraphy.


A mechanized theater with 119 animated figures playing a drama to the tune of a water-powered organ is being built at the Heilbrunn castle in Germany.


The word “android” was invented in 1737 by Albertus Magnus, a German philosopher and alchemist. Mr. Jacques Vaucanson’s artificial creations range from a human-sized android flutist to an automatic duck that mimics not only quacking, but advanced functions such as digestion and excretion itself..


Friedrich von Knauss, a German inventor, designed an android that could handle a pen and write a composition of up to 107 words.


Pierre and Henry Louis Jaquet-Droz, Swiss inventors, develop a variety of automatons, including one that draws four pre-programmed drawings.

19th Century Robots History

The popularity of automatons as traveling attractions and curiosities soared in the nineteenth century, and they were employed to captivate and inspire audiences all over the world. Chess-playing robots were a popular sort of Automaton at the time.

The Turk was perhaps the most renowned of these structures, built by Wolfgang von Kempelen in the 1770s and traveling until 1854. Even though The Turk looked to be able to play chess, the gadget was found to be a forgery since it was controlled by a chess player hidden within its box.

Despite The Turk’s and related devices’ complex ruses, the fundamental idea inspired the first real chess-playing machines, which appeared at the start of the twentieth century.

The Euphonia, a speaking, singing robot controlled by an early version of text-to-speech technology, was a unique invention from the nineteenth century that was most definitely not a fake. Joseph Faber, an Austrian mathematician, and inventor invented Euphonia.

A humanoid, feminine face was attached to a keyboard, from which the lips, jaw, and tongue of the face could be manipulated. 

Euphonia, which premiered in 1846, was the conclusion of 25 years of labor for Faber. Unfortunately, the machine’s blank look and scary, whispery voice were too unsettling for Victorian audiences, and the gadget sank into oblivion.

20th Century Robots History

Karel Capek first used the term “robot” in his play R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots) in 1920. It was derived from an ancient Slavic phrase that means “monotonous or forced work.” On the other hand, the first industrial robot did not start working for another thirty years. 

George Devol invented the Unimate in the 1950s, a robotic arm that moved die castings in a G.M. facility in New Jersey, which began operations in 1961. In the mid-1950s, Kuka, a German firm, developed an automated welding line for appliances as well as a multi-spot welding line for Volkswagen.

By 1968, Kawasaki had licensed and began producing a Unimation hydraulic robot design. Inmates were used in one of G.M. ‘s facilities in 1969 to achieve 90% body welds. Stanford University created the so-called Standard Arm, which is still used for minor part assembly and includes touch and pressure feedback, in 1970.

Automated welding became a prominent use of industrial robots because industrial robots could create high-quality welds in hostile settings.

By 1973, Kuka had created the six-axis arm, which would become a standard in the industry. It was at the same time that fully-electric robots started to arrive. In the same year, Cincinnati Milacron launched a microcomputer-controlled automated machine for commercial use.

In 1980, a lecture on machine vision was given at the University of Rhode Island. The following year, G.M. would put three robots to work sorting castings using machine vision. 

The decade would be peppered with further innovation, including creating a robot programming language and a direct drive SCARA robot. In addition, speeds & capacities were growing.

In the 1990s, advances in robot control and synchronization were made, and the first pretzel-filling packaging robot was developed. A patent adds laser navigation to the robot arm late in the decade.

Many people were astonished by NASA’s robotic rovers Spirit and Opportunity when they explored the surface of Mars in 2003. Four robots were synchronized in 2004, with 38 axes operating together. The wireless teaching necklace made it safer to educate a robot the following year. Light weighting, payload capacities, reach, speeds, and multi-axis synchronization progressed.

With the debut of the Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner in 2003, robots began to work in households. By 2009, autonomous industrial vehicles were well on their way, and by the start of the decade, they had made significant progress.

With the debut of the Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner in 2003, robots began to work in households. By 2009, autonomous industrial vehicles were well on their way, and robotic arms were becoming mobile in the industrial area by the turn of the decade. Collaborative robots, or COBOTS, were introduced in 2013, and they are meant to operate with humans. 

A.M.R.s, or Autonomous Mobile Robots, were working in warehouses by the following year. Omron Electronics purchased Adept Technologies in 2015, a firm whose roots may be traced back to Animation, the first robot company. Throughout the rest of the decade, similar large purchases would be made.

Robots have found a home in various fields during the previous half-century, including toys and entertainment, military weaponry, search and rescue aids, and a variety of other roles. Essentially, as programming and technology advance, robots will be able to perform many tasks that were previously too dangerous, boring, or difficult for people to act.

2000 to 2020 Robots

Even though we are just 20 years into the century, robotics has already shaped a significant portion of our technological environment. Many houses now have Roombas, which are robotic vacuum cleaners that clean your floors independently.

Drones that are autonomous or semi-autonomous have also been used in anything from the military to home delivery. Other robots are being created to assist us in the house, including one that will soon deliver Michelin-starred chefs to a kitchen or restaurant near you.

There have been so many significant improvements in the last several years that they easily merit their article. When examining recent robotic developments, it would be remiss not to mention two robots in particular: Sophia as well as the Boston Dynamics Dog.

Sophia made headlines a few years ago when she was named the world’s first robot citizen. In October 2017, Hanson Robotics’ Android robot was given Saudi Arabian citizenship.

She became the first robot or non-human to be named a United Nations title when the U.N. Development Programmer’s Innovation Champion was named the following month. Sophia’s artificial intelligence is cloud-based, which allows for deep learning, and she can recognize and reproduce a broad spectrum of human facial emotions.

What is the origin of the word “robot”? 

The term “robot” comes from the Czech word “robot,” which means “forced labor,” and is derived from the Proto-Slavic *robot, which means “hard work” or “slavery.”

With his play Rossumovi Univerzáln Roboti (Rossum’s Universal Robots) in 1920, Karel Capek popularized the word “robot,” in which artificial biological humanoid robots were produced and then dissatisfied, resulting in a robot revolution and the birth of a new robot civilization.

Apek was not a mechanical robot-like today’s robot. However, the word “robot” or “bot” has increasingly been used to refer to software, such as a Web-crawling bot that gathers data from websites.

Isaac Asimov, a science fiction novelist, accidentally coined the word robotics in his 1941 story “Liar!” From Pygmalion in ancient Greece through Mary Shelley’s Dr. Frankenstein and Arthur C. Clarke’s HAL 9000, science fiction writers have been enthralled by man’s ability to construct self-motivating machines and living forms.

A robot is simply a reprogrammable machine that can move to accomplish a task. C.N.C. machines, for example, have a unique code that differentiates them from other devices and machine tools. Due to their sturdy resistance capabilities and precise function, robots have found applications in various sectors.

Read also: Five Generations of Computer; Ontology in AI; Do Robot vacuums really work?; How robots help in the medical field; Xiaomi humanoid robot; Xiaomi vacuum robot mop; Is robot surgery better?; General Motors history, origin, evolution, GM; Electromagnetic interference and data center, servers and hardware in general

Note: In the blog we have another post on this topic, in Spanish, which is not a translation of this article but an independent version: historia de la robótica, cronología.

External resource: Wikipedia

This post is also available in: English Français (French) Deutsch (German) Dansk (Danish) Nederlands (Dutch) Svenska (Swedish) Italiano (Italian) Português (Portuguese (Portugal))