Robots have a long history from the (not so) simple mechanical creations of antiquity up to today's fully autonomous models. The earliest ones could only carry out scripted actions, modern ones adapt to their environments. Where was this line crossed? What is the earliest example of an intelligent digital robot?
- Must make decisions
The system must do more than blindly follow prescripted actions.
- Digital control system
The control logic must be fully digital (though not necessarily binary).
- Must be intelligent
Must use "advanced" methods of decision-making. This should be something more complex than simply-connected logic gates, lookup tables or cellular automata1.
Must be fully autonomous
Remote controlled vehicles, waldos, fly-by-wire, and the like are excluded. Rough guidance (e.g. "go to such and such waypoint" or "flip over each widget passing by on the assembly line") is permitted but the robot should do more than blindly perform an action. The control logic can be external to the robot (e.g. on a cable-connected minicomputer) but should take only very limited human input.
Have at least two sensors
An array of sensors (e.g. a CCD camera) counts as multiple sensors.
- Must control at least two independent actuators
Simply turning something on and off like a thermostat doesn't count. A robot with two independently controlled wheel motors does count.
- Must be "robot-like"
It must be capable of moving through its environment in some fashion. This includes autonomous vehicles, industrial robot arms, etc. It does not include thermostats, PLCs on an assembly line, etc.
- Not a simulator
It must do something productive: e.g. move through its environment, identify and pick something up, etc. Full-motion flight sims and their ilk are excluded.
- Not a weapon
No missiles and the like (because I said so).
I suspect the answer is something not much more interesting than a thermostat but who knows. What was the earliest intelligent digital robot?
1 Cellular automata might be permitted if you can make a good case for it.
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