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Robots: Machines In Man's Image


• The Origin of Robots: Myth and Reality

• The Creators and Pioneers: Joseph Engelberger

• The New Industrial Revolution: The Applications and Uses of Industrial Robots

• Inside the Robot: How it Works

• The New Breed: Personal, Promotional, and Hobby Robots

• The World View: Jobs, the Economy, and Robots

• Making Robots Smart: Research and Development

• Creating the Future: Robots and Society

Excerpt from Chapter Two: The Creators and Pioneers of Industrial Robots

For Joseph F. Engelberger, thirty years of building robots and founding a new industry have been both fun and a “big battle.” Now known as the Father of Industrial Robotics, he speaks of “playing in the robotics business” in one breath, and of surmounting “institutional barriers” in another.

An independent, analytical thinker who knew how to find and use information, he again and again eschewed the advice of other “experts.” And once others caught on, he found himself in a competitive arena where secrets could not be safeguarded enough. Yet he managed to make an innovation succeed.

Engelberger is just as comfortable describing economic and marketing models as he is with servo theory, the technology that piqued his interest when he was an engineering student. Clad in a suit and bow tie, an accessory that the fifty-nine-year-old Engelberger says saves time, he leans forward to draw an imaginary graph on a tabletop. His index finger zig-zags wildly across the polished wood surface, charting the course the robotics industry has taken. This engineer-turned-businessman also uses terms like “open or closed valves” and “positive or negative feedback” to convey how financial backers received his ideas.

Today the company he founded has close to eight thousand robots installed around the world and is the world’s largest manufacturer of industrial robots…