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Thursday, February 29, 2024

The Armored-Knight “Robotic” Designed by Leonardo da Vinci (circa 1495)

Picture by Erik Möller, by way of Wiki­me­dia Com­mons

These of us who had been play­ing video video games within the 9­teen-nineties might remem­ber a enjoyable lit­tle plat­former, not tech­ni­cal­ly unim­pres­sive for its time, known as Clock­work Knight. The con­cept of a clock­work knight seems to have had some his­tor­i­cal legitimate­i­ty, or at the least it might poten­tial­ly have been jus­ti­fied by the then-cur­hire state of Leonar­do da Vin­ci stud­ies. Again within the fifties, writes Roy­al Mont­gomery at Unchained Robotic­ics, “a staff of schol­ars on the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia had been por­ing over a num­ber of Leonar­do da Vinci’s be aware­books, specif­i­cal­ly the Codices Atlanti­cus and Madrid.” There they discovered plans for what turned out to be “a life-size mechan­i­cal knight inside a fif­teenth-cen­tu­ry Ger­man go well with of armor.”

A couple of gen­er­a­tion of enthu­si­asts and robotic­ics spe­cial­ists have since set about re-cre­at­ing Leonar­do’s “automa­ton.” Earlier than 2007, writes Mont­gomery, “most recon­struct­ed plans includ­ed a mechan­i­cal machine within the bel­ly of the knight. It was lat­er deter­mined that this machine had noth­ing to do with the knight in any respect — it was actu­al­ly a part of a clock!”

Even when it did­n’t run on lit­er­al clock­work, Leonar­do’s knight would’ve made fairly a spec­ta­cle. It “seems to have been assem­bled and dis­performed for the primary time at a cer­e­mo­ny held by the Prince of Milan, Ludovi­co Sforza in 1495,” and on this sole seem­ance “might sit and stand, raise its personal visor, and transfer its arms. It was stiff, positive, however you strive mov­ing grace­ful­ly in fifteenth cen­tu­ry armor.”

How­ev­er a lot it amused its aris­to­crat­ic audi­ence, Leonar­do’s sur­rep­ti­tious­ly pul­ley-and-cable-oper­at­ed “robotic” would even have provided work­ing, inte­grat­ed proof of the form of mechan­i­cal sys­tems to which he’d lengthy put his for­mi­da­ble engi­neer­ing thoughts. And at this time, as level­ed out at the positioning of the Robotic­ic On-line Quick Movie Fes­ti­val, “we’re fas­ci­nat­ed and ter­ri­fied in equal elements by humanoid robots for mil­i­tary pur­pos­es like Atlas, cre­at­ed by the com­pa­ny Boston Dynam­ics for DARPA (Protection Superior Analysis Tasks Company of the Unit­ed States). They’re all heirs, with twen­ty-first cen­tu­ry tech­nol­o­gy, to the robotic­ic sol­dier designed by Leonar­do.” The ques­tion of whether or not he additionally did any pio­neer­ing work on robotic ani­mals who might dance stays a mat­ter of inquiry for future Leonar­do schol­ars.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Discover the Largest On-line Archive Explor­ing the Genius of Leonard da Vin­ci

Leonar­do da Vinci’s Ele­gant Design for a Per­pet­u­al Movement Machine

The Inge­nious Inven­tions of Leonar­do da Vin­ci Recre­at­ed with 3D Ani­ma­tion

Watch Leonar­do da Vinci’s Musi­cal Inven­tion, the Vio­la Organ­ista, Being Performed for the Very First Time

The Amaz­ing Engi­neer­ing of Gauntlets (Armored Gloves) from the sixteenth Cen­tu­ry

200-12 months-Outdated Robots That Play Music, Shoot Arrows & Even Write Poems: Watch Automa­tons in Motion

Based mostly in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His initiatives embody the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the e book The State­much less Metropolis: a Stroll via Twenty first-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video collection The Metropolis in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­e book.

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