Robot Brief -Research/History

This week we were delivered a brief to design a robot with a specific theme in mind (now I see why the ‘transformers’ from last week were relevant). This theme will be shown through use of colour, design and even use or a logo/corporate branding.

So first things first, a bit of research. Where on earth do I even begin, I could sit here for the next two years discussing robot designs through the ages. Since this is something I do kind of hold dear and has been the core of sci-fi since the 20’s I’m going to sit here and give a quick history lesson before I start rambling about modern designs and how I’ll approach the project.

Taken from

Origin of robot
Czech, coined by Karel Čapek in the play R.U.R. (1920) from the base robot-, as
in robota compulsory labor, robotník peasant owing such labor

The first use of the word was in 1920 and has continued ever since, with entertainment grasping onto the idea of the mechanical man/woman, the golem, automaton or whatever you want to call it. In the same year as Čapek’s play we had the first on screen robot Q.I find it funny even back then during it’s initial use we automatically conceived of making a purely mechanical construct into the shape of a man.

Q the Automatron from ‘The Master Mystery – Le Maitre du Mystere’ 1920

The earliest example in literature is from famous author Frank Baum in his Wizard of Oz novels. In 1906 he published Ozma of Oz and we were all introduced to the first free thinking robot in literature before the term robot was even coined, Tik Tok. He would eventually appear in the 1985 movie ‘Return to Oz’.

Cinema would carry on for decades using human shaped robots as core inspiration for their narratives. A few personal favourites from the early years are Maria from Metropolis (1927) and Gort from The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951).

Maria – As gorgeous of a design today as it was in 1927.
Gort – Klatta barada nikto! The phrase to activate Gort.

All of that was off the top of my head without even touching google, I just know sci-fi. I could go into so many other examples throughout Hollywood, literature and be here writing this blog post a year from now so I’ll cut to my point, I don’t want to do a humanoid design for this brief.

I’d like to freedom to design for any potential purpose. This might be construction, medical, search and rescue etc and robot design in the real world has already long proven human form isn’t the most efficient for all tasks.

Also heres a video for Boston Dynamics Big Dog as seen above (now owned by Google), I love this thing and its automatic pathing/self righting.

So all of that aside let’s start looking at some existing concept art of non humanoid bots to take on bits and pieces I like for inspiration. I’ll break this into a second Analysis post.


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