Unimate 2000B industrial robot, c 1979.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
This robot was manufactured by Unimation Inc, who introduced the first commercially available industrial robots in 1958. In 1962 General Motors became the first company to install one of these robots on a production line. The robot handled red-hot castings before they were pased down the production line to workers for hand finishing. The innovation was not publicised at the time, as GM executives were uncertain as to whether the experimental technology would be a succes. Since then, robots of ever-increasing sophistication have been employed on many industrial tasks, replacing human workers particularly where danger, unpleasant conditions and monotony are a factor.