While the term “robot” is less than a hundred years old, the urge to build a working artificial human has been around for as long as anyone can tell. The urge to animate replicas of human beings occurred in all parts of the world throughout history. These automata were powered by weights and pulleys, falling water, or hidden operators, and then later by clockwork springs which only needed to be wound up. For some engineers, the goal was to replicate, and therefore learn, how biological systems worked. For others, the invention of such machines was aimed at making human work easier. But the real value in ancient automata was their ability to impress and entertain people.
In the 600s, Chinese engineer…
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