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Historical Background of Robots

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1. For years robots have been quite familiar figures in our minds in the form of mechanical-driven dolls, or the heroes in children's cartoons who exhibit superhuman qualities. However, the image of industrial robot used in manufacturing processes is far different from such. Among industrial robots, there are different types ranging from hand-operated "magic hands" to others equipped with intelligent faculties by incorporating micro-computers. Hence, there is no clear-cut definition1 for industrial robots. In general, however, the robots which we refer to as such include (1) those that display a complex motion with a high degree of freedom just like an arm or a hand and (2) those that are equipped with cognitive and such sensory functions, as sight, and tactual sense, and are capable of acting independently.

2. Robots can be considered as substitutes for men, and they must possess the functions not only of hands but also legs. At present technological levels, however, the industrial robot is unable to have legs as yet and is equipped only with a hand and rather infantile intelligence. Hence, it is as yet worth2 half a man. And this robot is called an industrial robot. To put it simply an industrial robot is an automatic machine having a hand.

3. The origin of the word 'robot' is said to have appeared first in a play called RUR (Rossum's Universal Robots) written by a Czech playwright, Karel Capec. Men riding on a fully-packed train in the outskirts of Prague were just like machines lacking in individuality3, Capec called such men robots in his play by parodying the word 'robota' meaning slave labour. The word 'robot' came into being4 by the bitter satire of the condition of man who was deprived of his humanity and became like a machine.

4. The three principles of a robot were set forth, they determined the character of robots. These three principles were: (1) a robot must do no damage to man, (2) a robot must be subordinate to man, and (3) a robot must protect itself from damage.

5. Those who work with robots must assume the responsibility both for solving the short-range technical problems and for assessing and minimizing the social difficulties of mobilization.

6. In this day of flexible automation, industrial robots are increasingly seen as a significant factor in further automating production systems and enhancing economic activity. The use of industrial robots has produced a number of economic and social advantages. Among them are the improvement in productivity, greater humanization of working life, prevention of labour accidents, improvement of product quality and the development of new industries.


1. clear-cut definition – четкое определение

2. it is as yet worth – тем не менее (все же) он заслуживает

3. lacking in individuality – отсутствие индивидуальности

4. came into being– вошло в обиход


II.Say whether the following statements are true or false:

1. There is no clear-cut definition for industrial robots. 2. Robots can't be considered as substitutes for men. 3. The origin of the word "robot" is said to have appeared first in a play written by a German playwright. 4. The use of industrial robots has produced a number of economic and social advantages.

III. Answer the following questions on paragraphs 1 and 2:

1. In what form have robots been familiar in our minds for years? 2. Can you give a definition of industrial robots?

IV. Give Russian equivalents to the word-groups given in the boxes of the logical diagram.

Robots equipped with micro-computers
Hand-operated robots “magic hands”
Robots with cognitive and sensory functions
Robots with a complex motion


V.Describe the types of industrial robots using the logical diagram and the information of paragraph 1.

VI.Translate paragraph 2.

VII. Find the English equivalents of the following words and word-groups:

происхождение слова, появляться впервые, окраина, обозначать, отсутствие индивидуальности, универсальный робот, быть лишенным чего-либо, означать, рабский труд.

VIII.Now say whom Capec called ”robots” and why.

IX. Name the three principles which determine the character of robots, using the information of paragraph 4.

X. Describe the economic and social advantages of industrial robots using the information of the last paragraph.

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