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The integration of AI is paving the way for an era of autonomous robots poised to assist in diverse fields, ranging from agriculture to elderly care.
Records from the 3rd century B.C. suggest the presence of automatons at the court of the Han dynasty in China. As noted in the Encyclopedia Britannica, these early instances included a commissioned mechanical orchestra for the emperor. Over time, these mechanisms evolved into remarkable technical achievements, particularly during the Enlightenment era. However, the pivotal leap in robotics occurred in the 20th century with the integration of industrial robots onto vehicle assembly lines, sparking a revolution in the automotive industry. Notably, the 21st century heralded the arrival of robots equipped with artificial intelligence, signifying a significant leap forward in the development of autonomous learning-capable machines.
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The first mobile robot with early artificial intelligence and autonomous operational capabilities in an environment is considered to be Shakey, introduced in 1968. A highly advanced machine for its time, it incorporated television cameras, laser and collision sensors, and a radio connection to a computer.
However, the term “artificial intelligence” was coined a decade prior to Shakey’s appearance at a 1956 conference at Dartmouth University in the USA. Even earlier, mathematicians like Alan Turing were exploring similar concepts in the 1940s.
During the 1970s and 1980s, the development of artificial intelligence experienced a certain stagnation due to perceived insurmountable challenges, commonly referred to as the “AI winter.”
Fortunately, in the 1990s, interest in AI surged with the emergence of Deep Blue, an artificial intelligence system that defeated Kasparov in chess. This evolution has continued to the present day with the introduction of ChatGPT and multimodal AIs. Notably, Boston Dynamics has entered into an agreement to incorporate OpenAI’s AI into its machines, enabling robots with intelligence capable of autonomous learning and performance enhancement over time.
Presently, numerous companies are in various stages of developing prototypes, ranging from bipedal humanoids to quadrupeds akin to Boston Dynamics’ “dogs.” Notable initiatives include:
While some robots have striking appearances, others discreetly transform real-world production systems across various industries:
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