Machine Design

Looking Back 08/06/09

10 YEARS AGO — AUGUST 5, 1999
Man’s best robotic friend: A $2,500 price tag didn’t stop consumers from purchasing Sony Corp.’s first robotic puppy — it sold out in 20 min. Aibo (for “artificial intelligence robot”) is the first high-tech consumer entertainment robot to use artificial intelligence. The size of a Chihuahua, Aibo weighs 3.5 lb with its lithium-ion battery.

Aibo’s legs have three degrees of freedom for the realistic clumsy gait of a puppy, two for its tail, and three for its neck. The dog’s brain is a 64-fit Risc processor with 16 Mbytes of RAM. Sony’s Aperios operating system and Memory Stick recording media, along with a variety of other sensors complete the robot.

30 YEARS AGO — AUGUST 9, 1979
Massive granulators reclaim Ford scrap: Two 400-hp throat granulators will be producing 5,000 lb/hr of granulate for Ford Motor’s Saline Plastics and Instrument Plant. The massive machines, built by Polymer Machinery Corp., will have 32 × 74-in. throats and a third one with a 32 × 65-in. throat has been ordered by Ford. Designed for high-volume recovery of exceptionally large automotive parts in polycarbonate, ABS, and glass-filled styrene, the three machines will be part of a large-scale scrap reclamation and handling system.

50 YEARS AGO — AUGUST 6, 1959
Giant xenon lamp lights entire auditorium: A 2 million-lumen xenon lamp, developed by Osram GmbH, Germany, solely illuminated a 92,000-sq-ft sports arena and auditorium (inset). Nearly 8-ft long, the lamp’s quartz tube is only 2 in. in diameter. Rated at 65 kW and operating at a 14.2-psi gas pressure, it delivers a luminous flux equivalent to that emitted by 4,650 conventional 40-W bulbs. Current consumption is 250 A. Unlike previous xenon lamps, it does not rely on artificial cooling. Light given off contains all the spectral colors and strongly resembles natural sunlight.

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