50th Anniversary of First Industrial Robot Honored at Automate 2011

March 14, 2011
The 50th anniversary of the installation of the first industrial robot at a General Motors plant in Trenton, New Jersey in 1961 will be honored with a special pavilion at the Automate 2011 Show, Mach 21-24, at McCormick Place in Chicago.

Titled "50 Years: A Tribute to Industrial Robots" the pavilion features 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 Engelberger’s company launched the robotics industry with 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 honor, 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. "Companies throughout the world want to know how automation can help them compete – they’ll find out first-hand at this show. The presentation from Drew Greenblatt, President of Marlin Steel Wire, should be especially illuminating, as he shares his story of how installing robots allowed Marlin to beat his competitors in China who pay $.30 an hour compared with the $30 per hour plus benefits his company pays. Even after investing in robotics, he’s added more employees, proving that a major key to job growth is becoming more competitive," Burnstein explained.

Greenblatt speaks at 10:00 am on Tuesday, March 22 following a keynote address from NASA and General Motors at 8:45 am on Robonaut 2, the humanoid robot recently launched into space.

For full details on Automate 2011, visit Automate 2011

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