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  Report: Slave and Expert Systems

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  1940s - 1950s: The Development of Early Robotics Technology

During the 1940s and 1950s two major developments enabled the design of modern robots. Robotics generally is based on two related technologies: numerical control and teleoperators.

Numerical control was invented during the late 1940s and early 1950s. It is a method of controlling machine tool axes by means of numbers that have been coded on media. The first numerical control machine was presented in 1952 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), whose subsequent research led to the development of APT (Automatically Programmed Tools). APT, a language for programming machine tools, was designed for use in computer-assisted manufacturing (CAM).

First teleoperators were developed in the early 1940s. Teleoperators are mechanical manipulators which are controlled by a human from a remote location. In its typical application a human moves a mechanical arm and hand with its moves being duplicated at another location.

browse Report:
Slave and Expert Systems
    Introduction: The Substitution of Human Faculties with Technology: Early Tools
-3   1913: Henry Ford and the Assembly Line
-2   1940s - Early 1950s: First Generation Computers
-1   1950: The Turing Test
0   1940s - 1950s: The Development of Early Robotics Technology
+1   1950s: The Beginnings of Artificial Intelligence (AI) Research
+2   Late 1950s - Early 1960s: Second Generation Computers
+3   1961: Installation of the First Industrial Robot
1980s: Artificial Intelligence (AI) - From Lab to Life
Automation is concerned with the application of machines to tasks once performed by humans or, increasingly, to tasks that would otherwise be impossible. Although the term mechanization is often used to refer to the simple replacement of human labor by machines, automation generally implies the integration of machines into a self-governing system. Automation has revolutionized those areas in which it has been introduced, and there is scarcely an aspect of modern life that has been unaffected by it. Nearly all industrial installations of automation, and in particular robotics, involve a replacement of human labor by an automated system. Therefore, one of the direct effects of automation in factory operations is the dislocation of human labor from the workplace. The long-term effects of automation on employment and unemployment rates are debatable. Most studies in this area have been controversial and inconclusive. As of the early 1990s, there were fewer than 100,000 robots installed in American factories, compared with a total work force of more than 100 million persons, about 20 million of whom work in factories.