Manufacturing AUTOMATION

50 years of robotics to be celebrated at Automate 2011

March 14, 2011
By Manufacturing AUTOMATION

The 50th anniversary of the installation of the first industrial robot at a General Motors plant in Trenton, N.J., in 1961 will be honoured with a special pavilion at Automate 2011, March 21-24, at McCormick Place in Chicago.

Titled “50 Years: A Tribute to Industrial Robots,” the pavilion will feature a timeline showing the technical progress of robotics from 1961 forward, as well as a selection of vintage robots and a review of imagined robots from ancient times through 20th Century science fiction.

Another major highlight will be a special tribute to Joseph F. Engelberger, regarded throughout the world as the “father of robotics.” Archival video of the Unimate robot that kicked off the robotics industry – launched by Engelberger’s company – will be shown along with interviews of Engelberger dating back to the early days of robotics.

“There are more than one million industrial robots installed worldwide in factories today, and it all started with Unimation, Joe Engelberger’s company,” said Jeff Burnstein, president of Robotic Industries Association (RIA), the industry’s trade group. “Of course, there’s more to the story – the Unimate was based on a patent by George Devol, who met Engelberger by chance at a cocktail party in 1956. The timeline of how the Unimate came to be will be presented in the tribute pavilion,” Burnstein explained.

The industry’s highest honour, the Engelberger Robotics Awards, are presented every year by RIA. The 2011 awards will be presented on March 22 to Åke Lindqvist, who recently retired from ABB Robotics as vice-president, and Dr. Henrik Christensen, director of the Center for Robotics and Intelligent Machines at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Launched in 1977, 113 industry leaders from 16 nations have now been selected for the Engelberger Award. Each recipient’s name will be listed in the tribute pavilion at Automate 2011.

Automate 2011 is North America’s broadest automation event, featuring solutions for robotics, machine vision and motion control. Some 170 leading companies from around the world will exhibit at the show, while more than 40 conference sessions and tutorials will be offered at the accompanying conference.

More than 7,500 visitors are expected to attend Automate 2011, according to the RIA’s Burnstein. Manufacturing AUTOMATION will be among these visitors. Stay tuned for coverage following the event.

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