1. Emotionally attached – Research suggests two-thirds of people who own Roomba robot vacuum cleaners have named their machine and some even clean up first before switching them on!
2. Elektro – At the 1939 New York World’s Fair the Westinghouse Electric Corporation exhibited Elektro, a humanoid robot that could walk about, speak 700 words and had a pet robo-dog.
3. Robotic roots – In 1495 Leonardo da Vinci conceived a humanoid robot, reminiscent of a knight in armour, with moving parts. A functional version has since been manufactured by NASA.
4. Armed and ready – NASA employs a large range of robotic equipment. Robot arms, such as the ISS’s Canadarm2, are used to lift, manoeuvre and recover large objects in space, eg satellites.
5. What’s in a name? – The word robot comes from the Czech ‘robota’, which translates as work, or forced labour. It was first used in Karel Capek’s 1920 play RUR (Rossum’s Universal Robots).