Robotics timeline


Around 1495 Leonardo da Vinci sketched plans for a humanoid robot.

Approx. 1495

a number of life-sized automatons were created

Approx. 1700 - Approx. 1900

including a famous mechanical duck made by Jacques de Vaucanson that could move its neck, flap its wings and even swallow food.

Henry Ford installs the world’s first moving conveyor belt-based assembly line in his car factory.


Karel Capek makes the word ‘robot’


The first true robot toy was produced in Japan.


The ‘Lilliput’ was a wind-up toy which walked. It was made from tinplate and stood just 15cm tall

Alan Turing releases his paper “On Computable Numbers” which begins the computer revolution.


science fiction writer Isaac Asimov writes the short story ‘Liar!’ in which he describes the Three Laws of Robotics.

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey any orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

George Devol and Joe Engleberger design the first programmable robot ‘arm’.

1954 - 1962

This later became the first industrial robot, completing dangerous and repetitive tasks on an assembly line at General Motors (1962).

The Soviet Union launches ‘Sputnik’, the first artificial orbiting satellite


This marks the beginning of the space race.

The IBM 360 becomes the first computer to be mass-produced.


Carnegie Universities eight-legged walking robot, Dante ll


Dante ll successfully descends into Mt Spur to collect volcanic gas samples.

LEGO launches its first Robotics Inventions System.


Sony releases the first version of AIBO


A robotic dog with the ability to learn, entertain and communicate with its owner. More advanced versions have followed.

The Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner