In 1961 the first industrial robot, Unimate, joined the assembly line at a General Motors plant to work with heated die-casting machines. Unimate took die castings from machines and performed welding on auto bodies; tasks that are unpleasant for people. Obeying step-by-step commands stored on a magnetic drum, the 4,000-pound arm is versatile enough to perform a variety of tasks.
An industry was spawned and a variety of other tasks were also performed by robots, such as loading and unloading machine tools. Unimate industrial robots are among the most widely used industrial robots in the world. With over 20 years of continued improvement they are highly reliable, easy-to-use robots.
The UNIMATE robots feature up to six fully programmable axes of motion and are designed for high-speed handling of parts weighing up to 500 lbs. The dedicated electronic control is regarded as one of the simplest controllers available in the industry today for teaching and operating industrial robots.
Unimate was conceived in 1956 at a meeting between inventors George Devol and Joseph Engelberger, where they discussed the writings of science fiction. Together they made a serious commitment to develop a real, working robot.