Unimation, Inc — the first robotics company in the world — was formed when Devol met Joseph Engelbe… The first robotic arm, which Devol and Engleberger called the Unimate #001, was made in 1959. After an invitation to speak to 400 Japanese executives in Tokyo who were interested in robotics for manufacturing, Engelberger signed a licensing agreement in 1969 with Kawasaki Heavy Industries (now Kawasaki Robotics) to manufacture and market the Unimate robots for the Asian market. At a cocktail party in 1956, Joseph Engelberger met inventor George Devol and the two got to talking about George’s latest invention - his Programmed Article Transfer device. This would become the Unimate industrial robot. The dedicated electronic control is regarded as one of the simplest controllers available in the industry today for teaching and operating industrial robots. GM first used the machine for die casting handling and spot welding of car bodies. That same year, Engelberger introduced the Unimate 1900 to the public at a trade show at Chicago’s Cow Palace. Devol’s robotic arm was designed for high-speed handling of parts up to 500 pounds and could perform a variety of tasks. Nobody knew what we were displaying or why, and the hydraulic system leaked like a sieve, but we were on our way! Unimation would soon develop robots for welding and other applications. By 1961, the Unimate 1900 series became the first mass produced robotic arm for factory automation. Capable of production speed never before achieved, the robots built 110 cars per hour - more than double the rate of any automotive plant in existence at the time! In this live broadcast from NBC Studios in New York City, Engelberger had the robot perform several tricks to wow viewers, including knocking a golf ball into a cup, pouring a beer, and conducting the Tonight Show band. Unimate took die castings from machines and performed welding on auto bodies; tasks that are unpleasant for people. Unimate industrial robots are among the most widely used industrial robots in the world. Unimate was conceived in 1956 at a meeting between inventors George Devol and Joseph Engelberger, where they discussed the writings of science fiction. We put together a hydraulically driven programmable arm that could pick up metal letters and spell out short phrases, and in 1961 we introduced our robot at a trade show at Chicagos Cow Palace. It was founded in 1962 by Joseph F. Engelberger and George Devol and was located in Danbury, Connecticut. On this side of the pond, General Motors had jumped ahead of its competition to become the most automated automotive plant in the world. Unimate was the first industrial robot, which worked on a General Motors assembly line at the Inland Fisher Guide Plant in Ewing Township, New Jersey, in 1961. After almost two years in development, Engelberger and Devol produced a prototype - the Unimate #001. Last week, at his home in Wilton, Connecticut, George Devol, the inventor of the first industrial robotic arm passed away. The programmable robotic arm described in Devol’s patent was called the Unimate, a combination of the words “universal” and “automation.” This machine moved with six degrees of freedom and stored step-by-step digital commands — making it the first industrial robot ever created. Conceived from a design for a mechanical arm patented in 1954 (granted in 1961) by American inventor George Devol, the Unimate was developed as a result of the foresight and business acumen of Joseph Engelberger - the Father of Robotics. “Sounds like a robot to me,” exclaimed Engelberger, who had a deep fascination with robots as a result of his love for writer Isaac Asimov’s science fiction stories. In 1978, after acquiring Vicarm, a company that had invented an innovative robot arm design, Unimation introduced the PUMA, or Programmable Universal Machine for Assembly, which went on to become a popular robot in … In 1966, television audiences around the world got to see the robot for the first time as Johnny Carson welcomed the Unimate on the Tonight Show. Revolutionizing manufacturing the world over, the Unimate was the very first industrial robot. Mindful of the uphill battle he would face from manufacturers, and motivated by Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics that relate a “first do no harm” philosophy similar to the Hippocratic Oath, Engelberger focused on employing the robots in tasks harmful to humans. In 1957, Engelberger, who at the time was director of Consolidated Controls Corp. (Condec subsidiary) located in Bethel, Connecticut, convinced Condec’s CEO to finance the development of Devol’s invention. He invented and patented a reprogrammable manipulator called "Unimate," from "Universal Automation." In 1961, they put the first Unimate into service at a General Motors plant in Ewing Township, N.J., where the robot extracted hot metal parts from a casting machine. They later started the first robotics company, Unimation, in Danbury, Conn. HAL 9000   |   Mars Pathfinder Sojourner Rover   |   R2-D2   |   Unimate. The Unimate was the first industrial robot ever built. Photo circa 1961. In 1961, Devol was awarded a patent for his robot invention and he and Engelberger established the world’s first robot company, Unimation—an abbreviation of the term “universal automation.” In 1961 Engelberger established Unimation, Inc., a Condec Corp. company in Danbury, Connecticut, to develop the business in the newly established robotics industry he created. In 1961 the first Unimate was installed at a GM plant in Trenton, New Jersey, to assist a hot die-casting machine. In 1961, the first Unimate was installed at a GM plant and carried out programmed commands to retrieve and stack hot die-cast metal pieces. An industry was spawned and a variety of other tasks were also performed by robots, such as loading and unloading machine tools. It has left a living legacy in an industry to which it gave birth. Together they made a serious commitment to develop a real, working robot. Devol had already applied for a patent an industrial robotic arm in 1954; U.S. Patent 2,988,237 was issued in 1961. He invented and patented a reprogrammable manipulator called "Unimate," from "Universal Automation." His strategy worked and in 1959 the 2,700 pound Unimate #001 prototype was installed on an assembly line for the first time at a General Motors diecasting plant in Trenton, New Jersey.

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