Jacques de Vaucanson’s most famous creation was this automaton of a mechanical duck capable of flapping its wings, quacking, eating grains, digesting, and defecating
Joseph-Marie Jacquard, a French silk weaver, developed the
mechanical invention of an improved automated loom. It
utilized interchangeable punch cards that controlled the weaving of the cloth.
Nikola Tesla’s invention of a wirelessly-controlled device with structure of a small boat used radio wave detection by two devices—a “coherer” consisting of metal oxide powder with a magnetic field and an antenna. A gear turned a disk that powered the ship’s electromagnetic motors, which resulted in the control of a rudder for steering and propelling.
Henry Ford’s invention of the world’s first moving-chassis assembly line improved mass production of an entire automobile. It was inspired by continuous-flow production methods used by flour mills, breweries, canneries and industrial bakeries.
Willard Pollard Jr. and Harold Roselund completed the first prototype for a spray painting machine. Willard Pollard Jr.’s design for the paint sprayer included (1) an electrical control system and (2) a mechanical manipulator.
J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly built the first general-purpose ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer). Its purpose was to perform complex calculations. Assisted in World War II with artillery calculations and solve differential equations for ballistics problems.
George Devol’s and Joseph Engelberger’s programmable robot UNIMATE was manufactured by Unimation. It was hydraulically powered, and used in assembly lines at General Motors (1962) in a dye-casting operation.
SRI's Artificial Intelligence Center developed the first mobile robot equipped with a vision system and controlled by a computer. It could perform tasks like planning, route-finding, and the rearranging of simple objects.
Ichiro Kato designed the first anthropomorphic, pneumatically-activated pedipulator (WAP-1). It used rubber and air bags attached to actuators as artificial muscles.
WAP-3 was an improved version of WAp-1 by Ichiro Kato. It included a memory-based controller and PWM-driven actuators. It had an improved centre of gravity on the frontal plane, and it's the first to have three-dimensional automatic biped walking. It was capable of climbing up and down stairs or slopes.
Hiroshi Makino of Yamanashi University designed SCARA (Selective Compliant Articulated Robot Arm). It worked in 4-axis, had high speed and precision, and used pick and place motion. It is similar to a human arm as it had joints to allow movement of the arm vertically and horizontally, and some movement of the wrist.
HONDA built ASIMO (Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility), an advanced humanoid robot. It can perform multiple human-like movements such as walking, running, moving up and down stairs. ASIMO has the ability to recognize the face of a select group of individuals.
HAL (Hybrid Assistive Limb) by Cyberdyne is an exoskeleton suit made to support movement and to lift weights. It uses the position of the center of gravity to assume the intention of moving the body and its direction of movement.
Boston Dynamics developed the BigDog, a rough-terrain robot that walks, runs, climbs and carries heavy loads. It’s powered by an engine that drives a hydraulic actuation system. It has multiple sensors for locomotion and regulation of hydraulic pressure, oil temperature, and more.
Robonaut was designed and developed in teamwork by NASA JSC and General Motors. It’s a dexterous humanoid/anthropomorphic robot built to help humans work and explore in space. Both versions are capable of handling a wide range of EVA tools and interfaces.