Happy Birthday to the Robot Operating System (ROS), which turned 10 years old last week! ROS, of course, is a collection of software tools and libraries used by robot programmers for developing applications.
What is thought to be one of Britain’s first robots now lives in an army surplus store in Leeds.
There were no fireworks to dazzle the crowd lining the streets of Alexandria to celebrate Cleopatra’s triumphant return to the city in 47BC. Rather, there was a four-and-a-half-metre-tall robotic effigy of the queen, which squirted milk from mechanical bosoms on to the heads of onlookers. Cleopatra, so the figure was meant to symbolise, was a mother to her people.
RoboThespian welcomes visitors to the opening of Robots at London’s Science Museum with suitable drama. The life-sized humanoid blinks its pixelated eyes, moves its head and gestures theatrically as it introduces the exhibition with great enthusiasm.
Eric the robot wowed the crowds. He stood and bowed and answered questions as blue sparks shot from his metallic teeth. The British creation was such a hit he went on tour around the world. When he arrived in New York, in 1929, a theatre nightwatchman was so alarmed he pulled out a gun and shot at him.
1308 Catalan poet and theologian Ramon Llull publishes Ars generalis ultima (The Ultimate General Art), further perfecting his method of using paper-based mechanical means to create new knowledge from combinations of concepts.
In examining the history of famous robots, you’d be forgiven for overlooking a 1950s children’s toy named Robert.
Robert the Robot, who was a product of the once-mighty Ideal Toy Company, didn’t do much, at least compared to the standards set by science fiction at the time. Unlike the helpful humanoids of Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot, Robert was just a 14-inch-tall hunk of plastic that could utter a few phrases, wheel around with a tethered remote control, and grip objects in his mechanical arms.
The Robot Operating System (ROS) was initially developed in 2007 at Stanford University as part of the Stanford AI Robot (STAIR) project.
Watson is an IBM supercomputer that uses AI (natural language processing and machine learning) to answer questions and shot to fame when it won the US quiz show Jeopardy in 2011.
Underpinning the entire technological revolution – and hence a decent proportion of economic growth – over the past 50 years is Moore’s Law.