The Invention Of The Robotic Arm

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Foundation Project – SAT0300

1. Introduction – History of the Robotic Arm

For my report, I will be reviewing the main contributing factors and innovations that have led from the invention of the robotic arm during the late 1950’s, all the way up to the 21th century implementation, that has led to the full-scale automation of many industrial jobs.
The first programmable robot, crudely named the ‘Unimate’ was created and designed by George Devol and Joseph Engelberger in 1956 (Rosen, 2011). The apparatus, although now seen to be very primitive, was revisionary at the time as it’s motors could reach an accuracy of 1/2500th of a centimetre. Devol simultaneously coined the term ‘Universal Automation’ (History of Industrial Robots, 2012).
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During 2004, Motoman continued making robotic arms, equipped with a touch screen display, capable of moving 38 axes.
Up until now, magnetic drums were used as the primary storage device for most of robotics. This changed however when the first minicomputer-controlled industrial robot, the T3 (The Tomorrow Tool), came to fruition (History of Industrial Robots, 2012). As there were less moving parts in the base, it allowed for a massive downsizing of the dimensions needed for such a machine.
1979 brought around the first ever electric, motor powered robots, making the previous hydraulic powered appliances eventually redundant. Soon after, Takeo Kanade built the direct drive arm. It was the first robot to have the motors installed directly into the joints of the arm, contained within the robot itself (Pasca, 2003). This made its movements faster and accurate than any other robot at the time. In 2010, Fanuc of Japan was the first company to launch a robot with “Adaptive iterative learning control”, meaning that it could react to the environment without any additional or preconditioned programming. This improved safety dramatically for the work force as the robot would be forced to stop its current job to prevent an accident from occurring (History of Industrial Robots, 2012).
2. Design

To start off with, we were tasked with planning and building a small robot arm, named the MeArm. We then had to think of 3 different potential projects,
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