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{alt}A demonstration of ASIMO{more}Click to play video A robot is a machine that carries out a series of actions on command or by being programmed in advance. Some modern robots are fully autonomous: this means they can perform complex tasks without human help, even if their surroundings are changeable or dangerous. Today, robots are used in the fields of entertainment, industry, housekeeping, space exploration, underwater archaeology, healthcare, scientific research and warfare. Drones (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or UAVs) and driverless cars are types of robot.

Al-Jazari’s musical toy boat


Ancient Greek inventors, such as Ctesibius (worked 285–222 BC), were among the first to build automata (machines that can perform a series of simple actions independently). These machines were moved by the power of water, steam or air pressure, as well as assemblies of levers and cogs. In the 12th century AD, the Turkish inventor al-Jazari (1136–1206) designed a series of automata, including a drink-serving waitress and a toy boat that moved across water while playing music.

Since 2012, the land speed record for a legged robot has been held by Cheetah, a four-footed robot that gallops at 45 km/h (28 mph).


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