Automate Honors 50 Years of Robotics


By Jeff Burnstein and Brian Huse, RIA

Joseph Engelberger and partner George Devol, Jr. sold the first American industrial robot, a Unimate, to General Motors which installed it in 1961. Early robots were used for die cast and spot welding operations where the work was hot and heavy.

Automate Show, March 21-24, 2011, Chicago, IL, USA, McCormick Place North Automate 2011 honors robotics industry pioneers with a special tribute at the Show, and a Gala Dinner presentation of the industry’s highest honor, the Joseph F. Engelberger Robotics Award.

Engleberger’s company, Unimation, eventually licensed its technology to Kawasaki Heavy Industries, setting in motion the start of the robotics industry in Japan and throughout the industrialized world.

Over the years, robots evolved from hydraulic arms with punch card controllers to electric servomotor driven arms controlled by processors with built-in machine vision. New worlds of applications opened as robots gained situational awareness through sensors and feedback loops, to the point where now surgeons remove gall bladders and farmers milk cows with robots.

Engelberger said the key to expanding applications of robots was to ask this question: “Do you think a robot could do that?” As we have seen in the past 50 years, very often the answer is, “Yes.”

Robotic Industries Association was formed in 1974 to represent robot manufacturers, component suppliers, systems integrators, users, educators, consultants and researchers. Over the years the industry has grown from a handful of companies in the U.S. into a worldwide network of automation leaders. RIA has grown right along with the industry and today represents some 250 members companies.

Automate 2011 celebrates the rich history of robotics and automation and presents a window into its future!

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