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From the time of ancient civilization there have been many accounts of user-configurable automated devices and even automata resembling animals and humans, designed primarily as entertainment. Robots have replaced humans in performing repetitive and dangerous tasks which humans prefer not to do, or are unable to do because of size limitations, or which take place in extreme environments such as outer space or the bottom of the sea. There are concerns about the increasing use of robots and their role in society. The word robot can refer to both physical robots and virtual software agents, but the latter are usually referred to as bots. The idea of automata originates in the mythologies of many cultures around the world. Greek mathematician and inventor, created numerous user-configurable automated devices, and described machines powered by air pressure, steam and water.
In ancient China, the 3rd-century text of the Lie Zi describes an account of humanoid automata, involving a much earlier encounter between Chinese emperor King Mu of Zhou and a mechanical engineer known as Yan Shi, an ‘artificer’. Yan Shi proudly presented the king with a life-size, human-shaped figure of his mechanical ‘handiwork’ made of leather, wood, and artificial organs. Su Song’s astronomical clock tower showing the mechanical figurines which chimed the hours. In 1066, the Chinese inventor Su Song built a water clock in the form of a tower which featured mechanical figurines which chimed the hours. Model of Leonardo’s robot with inner workings.
Possibly constructed by Leonardo da Vinci around 1495. Da Vinci’s notebooks, rediscovered in the 1950s, contained detailed drawings of a mechanical knight now known as Leonardo’s robot, able to sit up, wave its arms and move its head and jaw. One such automaton was the karakuri ningyō, a mechanized puppet. In France, between 1738 and 1739, Jacques de Vaucanson exhibited several life-sized automatons: a flute player, a pipe player and a duck. The mechanical duck could flap its wings, crane its neck, and swallow food from the exhibitor’s hand, and it gave the illusion of digesting its food by excreting matter stored in a hidden compartment. Remotely operated vehicles were demonstrated in the late 19th century in the form of several types of remotely controlled torpedoes.