Contrary to Popular Belief It Was the Ancient Greeks Who Invented the First Robot
When most people think of robots, they normally think of electronic devices and machines in the shape of humansâjust like cyborgs or androidsâbut truth is that the definition of the word robot covers a wider range than this. The first time we meet the word robot in recorded history was as recent as 1920 by Karel Capek and his brother, Josef Capek, but the fact is that the ancient Greeks had invented them well before that. Almost 2,250 years before the Capek brothers came up with the word robot, an ancient Greek philosopher, mathematician, and apparently the founder of mechanical science, Archytas, invented the first robot.
From the writings of another Greek inventor, Hero of Alexandria, we get to know about “The Pigeon” of Archytas. It is believed that the wooden bird was capable of flapping its wings and flying up to 200 meters, powered by some sort of compressed air or internal steam engine. Contemporary historians suggest though that the artificial dove was connected to a cable and flew with the help of a pulley and counterweight. The funny thing, however, is that Archytas created the artificial bird for a different purpose: to study what gives birds the ability to fly and ended up giving to the world, accidentally, the first robot and flying machine in history.
Almost two thousand years after Archytas came up with the pigeon, another great polymath that was obsessed with flight, Leonardo Da Vinci, studied birds meticulously in order to unlock their secrets and understand their flight system. He was based on the information that he had collected about bird’s flight (including the pigeon of Archytas) to create his famed “ornithopter.” For the record, in his notes, Da Vinci mentions bats, kites and birds as sources of his inspiration.