For a long time, robots were the preserve of science fiction. We’ve always been fascinated by the idea of intelligent machines, whether it was the development of Asimov’s three laws of robotics, the bickering Star Wars droids, or Douglas Adam’s manically depressed Marvin. Yet, the impact of robots on day-to-day life has been slow to emerge. Few of us have the android domestic staff that was the stuff of 1950’s visions of the future, for example, but, in fact, robots are in more areas of our existence than you might think.
The first robotic patents for machines to be used in industry were granted in 1961, so they have a longer history than you might think. These were mainly for simple transfer systems that moved components from one place to another to aid assembly processes.
Because they were able to repeat tasks over and over again to the same level of accuracy, robots quickly found their place on the production line. This was something that came to public consciousness with the Fiat car adverts of the late 1970s. By this time, robots were undertaking other repetitive tasks such as welding and paint spraying.