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Who Invented The First Robot?

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Robots have been a scientific marvel and an idea that has often captivated and left humanity in awe. Within the genre of Science Fiction alone, we see many images of robots and the many different functions and task these automatons have. From the imaginary concept of the android to the modern day realization of self-functioning machines that perform certain specific task on their own, we’ve always strive to perfect our technology in the area of robotics. The FTC – First Tech Challenge – is a competition designed to influence the love for robotics in teenagers attending high school. The question then becomes, where did the first robot start? How did this idea come to be and what was it that gave birth to this branch of imagination and innovation?

ArchytasA bust of Archytas. However, some people thinks it is actually that of Pythagoras. Sadly, there is no drawings, sketch or image of his steam powered pigeon.

First, let’s look at the definition of robot

A robot is a contraption able to perform certain complex task on it’s own. Saying that, it is a big surprise that the first robot came about before the understanding of electricity. Officially, the first robot was invented around the year 400-350 BC. The inventor was a Greek mathematician named Archytas. His invention was a steamed powered pigeon. The bird was made out of wood. Through the use of steam, it was able to move around on it’s own. It was recorded to have gone as far as 200 meters before the steam ran out. This was also the first instance of the study of how birds were able to fly.

The Father of Mechanical Engineering

Considered the father of Mechanical Engineering, Archytas was also a philosopher, astronomer, mathematician, statesman, strategist, and even a commander. Basically, he was a potential jack of all trades. Though illegal, his fame caused him to be elected the General for seven consecutive years in a row. This was also attributed to the fact that, in his career, he had never lost a battle.

He was a great mathematician

One of his accomplishments was solving the geometrical problem, proposed by Hippocrates and Chios, of “Doubling the Cube”. Also, Archytas made great contributions to music theory. Through the use of mathematics, he defined the intervals of pitch within the enharmonic scale. Also, he defined those already know within the chromatic and diatonic scales.

He inspired a lot of people

His mathematics would go on to influence Plato, Euclid, and many others. Plato was highly influenced by Archytas. Evidence of this was found throughout his work, including Plato’s “The Republic”. One quote found reads “How does a society obtain good rulers like Archytas, instead of bad ones like Dionysus II?” He later died, drowning from a shipwreck.

We owe it to Archytas

His contributions to math and science have inspired our society to this day. Were it not for that one small invention of a pigeon that could fly, we would possibly not have such a large imagination concerning the future and all it’s electrical and scientific wonders. From the robots that compete in the FTC, to the imagery in movies such “iRobot” and “Bicentennial Man”, all these could be attributed to a Greek Philosopher in a day and age that we often associate as an under developed period.

More on robots: Facts about robots.