In Moving On Their Own Ahmed K. Noor, mechanical engineering expert and Director of the Center for Advanced Engineering Environments, writes on mobile robots:
The word “robot” dates back to the early 1920s. It was introduced in a play called R.U.R. by a Czech writer, Karel Čapek. The idea of an automaton existed in antiquity, the subject of myths and fiction, but the first humanoid robot, Elektro, was exhibited by Westinghouse Electric Corp. at the 1939 World’s Fair. Ten years later came the first biologically inspired autonomous robots, Elmer and Elsie. They looked like turtles and were constructed at Bristol University in England in 1948 and 1949. Artificial intelligence entered a fully mobile robot when Shakey was demonstrated by the Stanford Research Institute (now SRI International) in 1969.
Since then, robotic technologies have enabled computer-driven machines to interact intimately with the physical world, and there has been an expectation that robots would some day deliver humans from the drudgery of hard work… That has partly come to pass. Contemporary robots are used for jobs that are boring, dirty, or dangerous; or for tasks that require more speed, precision, or endurance than a human can provide. Robots today are part of our lives. They sweep the floor at home, and perform almost all welding, painting, and assembly tasks in the automotive industry. They have become a basic element of production in industries ranging from electronics to wood products.
For more, see MEmagazine.