The robotics industry has made significant progress through modern innovations in recent years. What used to be just a science-fiction fantasy has evolved into a realistic and tangible way to increase efficiency in countless applications.

In the broadest sense, robots are defined as machines programmed by engineers that have the potential to carry out complex or technical actions. From healthcare to manufacturing, space exploration and more, there’s truly no limit to what the robotics industry is capable of. Let’s take a look at the history as well as some recent innovations in this fascinating and rapidly-growing industry:

Ancient Robotics

The phrase almost sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s an accurate way to describe the earliest forms of the technology, which are thought to have been implemented in Egypt. The Egyptian water clock is among the most primal examples of the ways robots were first used. Dating as far back as 1500 BCE, this technology used a container filled with water to tell the time based on accumulation. What’s even more impressive was the ability of the water to have a strong enough force to hit a gong or a bell on the hour.

Fast forward to 325 BCE, when the technology was widely used in Greece. And just 25 years later, another major breakthrough in the realm of robotics came from Archytas, a mathematician. Archytas innovated what became known as The Pigeon: a mechanics-based bird that could use steam to become airborne.

Next came Leonardo Da Vinci’s invention, the Robot Knight, in 1495. The Robot Knight had the ability to sit, stand, and move its arms using a series of cables and pulleys, according to Mark Elling Rosheim’s Leonardo’s Lost Robots.

While these examples do fall under the classification of ‘robot,’ the actual term wasn’t used until 1921. It was first used by Karel Capek, a Czech writer, in a work of fiction. Even then, it didn’t gain popularity until more than two decades later when writer Isaac Asimov used it in his work in 1942.

Modern Robotics Applications

As mentioned, countless applications for robotics have been implemented in major industries including healthcare, science, manufacturing, and more. Robotics are slowly but surely improving to the point of replacing human labor in repetitive and manual tasks. Of course, this decrease in the need for human labor in these positions is offset by the increase in the demand for engineers and programmers necessary to operate them. What’s more is that these newly created positions pay more and require a more advanced set of skills, making for an influx of entry-level openings.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence, or AI, is one aspect in the robotics realm that’s being embraced as an accurate and effective shortcut for countless online logistics purposes. AI has been incorporated into software that’s later used to prevent identity theft, produce relevant search results for online platforms, and assist with algorithms used by media streaming services like Netflix and Hulu to provide content based on previous watch history. This is known as ‘predictive analytics.’

Furthermore, larger corporations are also jumping aboard the AI train to provide ease of access for consumers of all kinds. For example, Microsoft Office 365 users now have the ability to make and receive phone calls using Microsoft Teams without having to use a third-party application. Language recognition technologies have also helped Google’s Pixel Buds, which translate up to 40 languages in real time, to flourish.

The Future of Robotics

One major industry that’s bound to see a skyrocketing number of AI and robotics applications is the shipping and trade industry. An estimated 35% of organizations in these fields as well as in healthcare and utilities are anticipated to use such technologies as early as this year.

However, one aspect of robotics and AI that may not continue for the long term is self-driving cars and automotive technology. Car accidents that involve self-driven vehicles are becoming more common, showing a correlation between impulsive drivers and automotive AI technology that may not be viable for the long haul.

The future of robotics is still largely unknown. But as a whole, AI technologies and robotics applications continue to expand to more efficiently meet the needs of consumers and businesses alike.