1970 - 2019

Fully automatic: how robots found their feet

Deutsches Museum

Sometimes they help, sometimes they scare us: how robotics influences people's lives and thoughts.

Robots in our lives: A dream or a nightmare?
Machines do work that helps and protects us. For centuries, we have entertained bold visions of artificial intelligence intended to make our lives easier. But with technological progress, many people's fears are also growing. Will robots one day develop independent intelligence and their own consciousness? Will machines control humans one day?

The original robot
The Golem of Prague, the mystical, gigantic being who, according to legend, protected and served the inhabitants of the city's Jewish quarter in the early Middle Ages.

It was near the world-famous Charles Bridge in the old town of Prague that, according to legend, 2 rabbis created the Golem—a human-like creature—out of clay.

Industry robots
In the 1970s in particular, robots took on more and more tasks, especially in industry. The K15, for example, was one of the first welding robots in automotive production and was used from 1975 onward.

Robots as toys
It just wants to play! Robots could also be found in children's bedrooms. This is the Omnibot 2000 model from the 1980s. It was controlled by a remote control and could carry light objects.

Service robots
The anthropomorphic service robot, Hermes, stands at 6-feet tall and weighs 550 pounds. It has a camera for an eye and a microphone for an ear and is used for collection and delivery, exploration, and mapping buildings.

Football robots
Football robots like our model here, Franz, are still stiffer than their human counterparts. However, some developers are already dreaming of machines being able to defeat the reigning world champions on the pitch by 2050. That's 11 robots against 11 humans!

Robots in motion
A dog named Aibo ERS-7M3, the Omnibot 2000, the white cat Yume Nekom, the wobbling walking machine Tobor with its 6 legs, Pleo the dinosaur, and our 3-wheeled hero Wow-Wee can be seen in action in the Deutsches Museum robotics exhibition area.

Robots for therapy patients
The robot seal "Paro," used for therapeutic purposes in dementia patients, is both sweet and useful. It can lift its head, close its eyes, and howl, conveying a sense of warmth and security.

The Mars Curiosity Rover
Robots have long been helping humans explore extraterrestrial spheres. Here is an animation of the Mars Curiosity Rover, which began to send the first pictures of the red planet back to Earth after its landing in 2012.

A glimpse of the Deutsches Museum of the future: this is what the robotics exhibition area could look like from 2020...

The golem (left) and beside it the water clock, a mechanical timekeeping device used in ancient times.

Two of the best-known robots in film history—C-3PO and R2-D2, the 2 droids from the Star Wars saga, that first appeared onscreen in the 1977 "Star Wars" film.

A model of the "Hermes 2000" next to a flying drone.

An andropomorphic service robot that can be used purely for entertainment purposes. On its left is the HelpMate, which was mainly used in hospitals.

What about the future?
It is clear that robots are becoming increasingly intelligent and autonomous, and are doing things that humans alone would not be able to do. Examples of this include the humanoid NASA robot Valkyrie (pictured), which will explore Mars before the first humans arrive there. But robots are even on the rise in war zones. Will autonomous drones and tanks decide for themselves who to shoot at in the future? And more generally, will we reach a point where we can no longer control the robots' ever-increasing artificial intelligence? Will they control humanity? These are possible future scenarios being contemplated—and causing great concern.

Deutsches Museum
Credits: Story

Created by Deutsches Museum.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.