The Care and Killer Robots timeline below shows a chronology of some of the most significant
robotic systems in the domains of health care and military research over the last 100 years.

Care & Killer Robots

Dec 10

1918 Self-Propelled Torpedos

Sopwith Cuckoo bomber (piloted) launching a torpedo, circa 1918. Developed in the 1860s by Robert Whitehead, self-propelled torpedoes initially had only simple guidance systems for keeping a constant course and depth. By WWII they could home in on targets using sonar. Credit: © IWM (Q 69295)

Dec 10

1928 The Iron Lung – Drinker Respirator

1928 Drinker Respirator. The Drinker Respirator ie, ’The Iron Lung’ ,often referred to in the early days as the “Drinker respirator”, was invented by Philip Drinker (1894–1972) and Louis Agassiz Shaw, Jr., professors of industrial hygiene at the Harvard School of Public Health.The machine was powered by an electric motor..Read More

Dec 10

1933 – “Mechanical Mike” Sperry Autopilot

In 1933, Wiley Post became the first person to fly solo around the world. It might not have been possible without this Sperry Gyroscope autopilot, which allowed him to simultaneously fly and navigate.”Mechanical Mike,” as the Sperry autopilot was called,  incorporated two gyroscopes and operated upon compressed air and hydraulic..Read More

Dec 10

1940 Teletanks

Teletanks were a series of wireless remotely controlled unmanned tanks produced in the Soviet Union in the 1930s and early 1940s. They saw their first combat use in the Winter War, at the start of World War II. A teletank is controlled by radio from a control tank at a distance..Read More

Dec 10

1943 Artificial Kidney

1943 The First Artificial Kidney Machine The first artificial kidney machine was developed by Willem Kolff in 1943. He had limited materials during wartime, so he used cellophane sausage wrapping attached to a wooden rotating drum. The first 15 people hooked up to the machine died. However, drum dialysers saved..Read More

Dec 10

1945 – ‘Vengeance Weapon’ Ballistic Missile

German Vergeltungswaffe (“Vengeance Weapon”) 2 rocket, aka V2, circa 1945. A pioneering ballistic missile, the V2 was the first human artifact in outer space. Gyroscopes kept it on course from Nazi-occupied France to London and Antwerp. Inventor Werner von Braun later developed the Apollo moon rockets. Credit: Roger Viollet

Dec 10

1951 – Iron Heart

The Iron heart temporarily takes over the function of the heart during surgery. A team of scientists at Birmingham University were among the pioneers of this technology. 1942-53 Dodrill-GMR the first operational mechanical heart successfully used while performing open heart surgery. It was developed by Dr. Forest Dewey Dodrill, a..Read More

Dec 10

1958 – First wearable external pacemaker

In 1958, engineer Earl Bakken of Minneapolis, Minnesota, produced the first wearable external pacemaker. This transistorized pacemaker, housed in a small plastic box, had controls to permit adjustment of pacing heart rate and output voltage and was connected to electrode leads which passed through the skin of the patient to..Read More

Mar 10

1962 – Polaris Missile Guidance System Mark 2

Polaris Missile Guidance System Mark 2, exterior case, Raytheon, 1962

Dec 10

1964 – First Home HemoDialysis

A small, portable dialysis machine that could be operated by family members. The portable unit allowed people to undergo dialysis in their own homes, making it easier to maintain their daily routines and freeing up machines in dialysis centers.

Dec 10

1973 – The Phalanx Close-In Weapons System

The Phalanx Close-In Weapons System (CIWS) was developed as the last line of automated weapons defense (terminal defense or point defense) against anti-ship missiles (AShMs or ASMs) and attacking aircraft, including high-g and maneuvering sea-skimmers. The first prototype system was offered to the U.S. Navy for evaluation on the destroyer leader USS King in..Read More

Jun 10

1977 – Harpoon Missile

The Harpoon is an all-weather, over-the-horizon, anti-ship missile system, developed and manufactured by McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing Defense, Space & Security). In 2004, Boeing delivered the 7,000th Harpoon unit since the weapon’s introduction in 1977. The missile system has also been further developed into a land-strike weapon, the Standoff Land..Read More

Dec 10

1980 – Healthcare robotics begins linking NASA research

Researchers became interested in using technology developed by NASA in the field of telepresence and virtual reality to enhance surgeon dexterity in micro surgeries. Ames Research Center and Stanford Research Institute robotocists and virtual reality experts in collaboration with the NASA researchers developed a dexterous telemanipulator designed for hand surgery...Read More

Dec 10

1985 – Puma 56

The “first surgical robot.” Developed in London, England at the Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine. Created to place a needle for a brain biopsy using CT guidance. The first documented use of a robot-assisted surgical procedure occurred in 1985 when the PUMA 560 robotic surgical arm was used in..Read More

Dec 16

1990 – iRobot Corporation & Packbots

In 1990,  iRobot Corporation was founded by Rodney Brooks, Colin Angle and Helen Greiner and produced domestic and military robots. PackBot is a series of military robots produced by the company. More than 2000 were used in Iraq and Afghanistan. They were then used again to aid searching through the debris of the world trade center after 9/11 in 2001. Another instance..Read More

Oct 01

1994 – MIT-MANUS

Manus robot aids physical therapy of stroke victims. It is a mind and hand/physical therapy robot system. A person sitting at a table puts the lower arm and wrist into a brace attached to the arm of the robot. A video screen prompts the person to perform an arm exercise..Read More

May 01

1999 – The IBOT

The iBOT was a powered wheelchair that could “walk” up and down stairs, it allowed the user to rise from a sitting level to approximately 6′ tall, and the iBot could climb and descend curbs. It climbed stairs by rotating its two sets of powered wheels about each other. Unfortunately,..Read More

Sep 01


The da Vinci System is designed to facilitate complex surgery using a minimally invasive approach, and is controlled by a surgeon from a console, powered by robotic technology that allows the surgeon’s hand movements to be translated into smaller, precise movements of tiny instruments inside the patient’s body. One of..Read More

Mar 10

2000 – Predator UAV

The Predator UAV is made by General Atomics affiliate General Atomics Aeronautical Systems General Atomics is a defense contractor headquartered in San Diego, California, specializing in nuclear physics. General Atomics’ research into nuclear fission and nuclear fusion has also had bearing on related technologies, allowing the company to expand into other..Read More

Dec 16

2000 – TALON: Tracked Military Robot

TALON robots have been in continuous, active military service since 2000 when they were successfully used in Bosnia for the safe movement and disposal of live grenades. TALON robots were also used extensively at Ground Zero in search and recovery efforts after the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade..Read More

May 10

2001 – NeuroArm

The first robotic surgeon in the neurology field is the neuroArm and is the world’s first MRI-compatible surgical robot, which can perform both microsurgery and stereotaxy. The project began in 2001 with an initial investment of $ 2 million. It was developed by Dr. Garnette Sutherland, Professor of Neurosurgery in..Read More

Apr 10

2003 – Paro

Paro is a therapeutic robot. It’s a baby harp seal , intended to have a calming effect and elicit emotional responses to patients in hospitals and nursing homes . The use is similar to therapy with the help of animals, but without the negative aspects. Paro is designed by Takanori..Read More

Dec 10

2005 – Wakamaru

In 2005, Mitsubishi Industries introduces the Wakamaru. The 1 meter tall houshold robot is intended to provide companionship and assistance to the elderly and the disabled.

Dec 16

2006 – Hospital Robot Guide

Japan Introduces First Hospital Robot Guide And Receptionist In Fukushima on October 28, 2006. The first hospital guide and recepionist robots in the world. Aidu Chuo Hospital of Aizu-wakamatsu, Fukushima Prefecture has introduced one receptionist robot and two guide robots developed by TMSUK Co. LTD. The guide robot leads them..Read More

Dec 16

2006 — SGR-1

First trialled in 2006, the SGR-1’s are machine-gun wielding robots, built by Samsung, and have heat and motion detectors to identify potential targets more than 2 miles away. The SGR-1 has a 5.5mm machine gun and a 40mm grenade launcher – although needs a human operator to give it the..Read More

Dec 16

2006 – NAO

NAO is an autonomous, programmable humanoid robot developed by Aldebaran Robotics, a French robotics company headquartered in Paris. It is an interactive and personalizable robot companion. In 2012, Nao robots were used to teach autistic children in a UK school; some of the children found the childlike, expressive robots more..Read More

Dec 16

2007 – The General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper

The General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper (formerly named Predator B) is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capable of remote controlled or autonomous flight operations, developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) primarily for the United States Air Force (USAF). The MQ-9 and other UAVs are referred to as Remotely Piloted Vehicles/Aircraft..Read More

Dec 16

2007 – MNS (Magnetic Navigation System)

The MNS is a robotic system, which was designed to help physicians to perform precision and safety in specific procedures such as arrhythmias and atrial fibrillation. It navigates magnetically directed tools inside the body by controlling a magnetic field. The devices’ precise motions are control by computerized magnetic fields. The..Read More

Dec 16

2008 – DEKA Bionic Arm

The DEKA bionic arm, nicknamed Luke (Skywalker), is a modular prosthetic arm that is configurable for different levels of amputation including transradial, transhumeral, and shoulder disarticulation. It is controlled by electrical signals prompted by the contraction of muscles close to where the prosthesis is attached. Electrodes then send the signals to a..Read More

Dec 20

2009 – Ethical Autonomous Robot Architecture

This robot control architecture developed by Ronald Arkin et al, is equally applicable to military as well as healthcare domains. According to their research, “as humans are being progressively pushed further downstream in the decision-making process of autonomous systems, the need arises to ensure that moral standards, however defined, are..Read More

Dec 16

2010 — Nurse Cody

Cody, the robot nurse, is an assistive care robot that gives sponge baths to patients. It was developed by a team led by Dr. Charles Kemp, the principal investigator for the Healthcare Robotics Laboratory at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The Robot Nurse Cody is partially human controlled, and is outfitted..Read More

Dec 16

2011 – The Northrop Grumman X-47B

The Northrop Grumman X-47B is a demonstration unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) designed for aircraft carrier-based operations. Developed by the American defense technology company Northrop Grumman, the X-47 project began as part of DARPA’s J-UCAS program, and subsequently became part of the United States Navy’s Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration..Read More

Dec 16

2014 — Pepper

Pepper is a humanoid robot by Aldebaran Robotics and SoftBank Mobile designed with the ability to read emotions. Pepper is being researched for its positive effects of mental engagement and the ability for it to provide continual monitoring of those in need and the elderly.

Dec 16

2015 — ROBEAR

ROBEAR is a nursing care robot which is capable of performing tasks such as lifting a patient from a bed into a wheelchair or providing assistance to a patient who is able to stand up but requires help to do so. The new robot developed by the RIKEN-SRK Collaboration Center..Read More

Dec 10

2016 – RoBattle

RoBattle is Israel Aerospace Industries’ (IAI) new combat robot. It is a modular, autonomous combat robot. The manufacturer calls it a modular “robotic kit” made up of several components: vehicle control, navigation, RT mapping and autonomy, sensors and mission payloads.

Dec 16

2016 — Police Robots Around the World

LAW ENFORCEMENT ACROSS the globe use semi-autonomous technology to do what humans find too dangerous, boring, or just can’t. In 2016, the Cleveland Police had a few nonlethal robots on hand at the Republican National Convention. In April 2016 in Dallas, TX, a police strapped a bomb to an explosive-detonation..Read More

Dec 16

2016 – Pillo

Pillo is a personal pharmacy that combines face recognition, video conferencing, machine learning and automation to create a personal health assistant that can dispense vitamins and medication. It is an intelligent home health companion designed to manage medications, re-order medicines, answer medical queries, send notifications to family members when medicines..Read More