Unimate

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Unimate was the first industrial robot,[1] which worked on a General Motors assembly line at the Inland Fisher Guide Plant in Ewing Township, New Jersey, in 1961.[2][3][4]

It was invented by Norman Heroux[5] and sold by George Devol in the 1950s using his original patent filed in 1954 and granted in 1961 (U.S. Patent 2,988,237). The patent begins:

The present invention relates to the automatic operation of machinery, particularly the handling apparatus, and to automatic control apparatus suited for such machinery.[6]

Devol, together with Joseph Engelberger, his business associate, started the world's first robot manufacturing company, Unimation.[7]

The machine undertook the job of transporting die castings from an assembly line and welding these parts on auto bodies, a dangerous task for workers, who might be poisoned by toxic fumes or lose a limb if they were not careful.[4]

The original Unimate consisted of a large computer-like box, joined to another box and was connected to an arm, with systematic tasks stored in a drum memory.

The Unimate also appeared on The Tonight Show hosted by Johnny Carson on which it knocked a golf ball into a cup, poured a beer, waved the orchestra conductor's baton and grasped an accordion and waved it around.[7][8]

In 2003 the Unimate was inducted into the Robot Hall of Fame.[9]

In popular culture[edit]

Fictional robots called Unimate, designed by the character Alan von Neumann, Jr., appeared in comic books from DC Comics.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Nof, Shimon Y. (1999). Handbook of Industrial Robotics (2nd ed.). John Wiley & Sons. pp. 3–5. ISBN 0-471-17783-0. 
  2. ^ 1961: Installation of the First Industrial Robot
  3. ^ Menzel, Peter; Faith D'Aluisio (2000). Robo sapiens: evolution of a new species. The MIT Press. pp. 186–189. ISBN 0-262-13382-2. 
  4. ^ a b Mickle, Paul. "1961: A peep into the automated future", The Trentonian. Accessed August 11, 2011. "Without any fanfare, the world's first working robot joined the assembly line at the General Motors plant in Ewing Township in the spring of 1961.... It was an automated die-casting mold that dropped red-hot door handles and other such car parts into pools of cooling liquid on a line that moved them along to workers for trimming and buffing. Its most distinct feature was a grip on a steel armature that eliminated the need for a man to touch car parts just made from molten steel."
  5. ^ "Norman Heroux's Obituary on The News-Times". The News-Times. Retrieved 2016-07-09. 
  6. ^ Rosen, Rebecca J. "Unimate: The Story of George Devol and the First Robotic Arm"
  7. ^ a b 1961: The First Robot
  8. ^ Video clip of Unimate on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson Archived January 13, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ The Robot Hall of Fame: Unimate
  10. ^ Booster Gold (vol. 2) #21 (August 2009)

External links[edit]