Robot - 'Robbie', Recycled Metal & Aircraft Components, circa 1957 Object Reg. No: ST 041541

Robot built by schoolteacher Mr Bernard Smith in the 1950s. Mr Smith named it "Robbie the Robot." It was operated by car batteries with a remote control panel connected by a cord. The robot has 13 motors for forward and backwards movement as well as arm control. The frame is made of 'Dexion' type shelving and the servo motors are war-surplus aircraft components. The wheels on which it moves are tail wheels from a P-51 Mustang fighter aircraft.

Mr Smith built Robbie to demonstrate the possibilities of mechanical devices to his students. It was constructed in vaguely human form - a reflection of the way people imagined the future might be - a world with mechanical servants to carry out our every whim. 'Robbie' could move backwards, sideways and forwards. It could manipulate its arms and hands and handle objects. It was operated from a remote control panel so it was not automatic like a true robot - instead it was a very sophisticated and ingenious set of adjustable spanners.
Robot with metal frame, fittings and galvinised metal covering sheet. Most of the Robot's exterior metal surfaces have been painted grey. Plywood shelves have various electrical fittings screwed to them, and there is extensive electrical wiring draped around the frame of the robot. The 'head' contains two lamps and a speaker. The 'hands' have pads of purple and black rubber. The robot has three wheels with black rubber tyres. There is a separate wooden control box connected to Robbie by a long, thick grey cable.
Discipline: Technology
Dimensions: 1700 mm (Height), 800 mm (Width), 800 mm (Length)

More information

Tagged with: robotics, robots, aircraft components, innovation design
Themes this item is part of: Engineering Collection
Primary Classification: MECHANICAL ENGINEERING
Secondary Classification: Robotics
Tertiary Classification: electro-mechanical robots
Inventor: Mr Bernard Smith, Camberwell, Victoria, Australia, 1956-1958
References: a history of cybernetic animals and early robots, 1956 - ?Robert the Robot? - Bernard Smith, accessed 24 Aug 2012:
a history of cybernetic animals and early robots, 1960c - Painting Machine - Bernard Smith, accessed 24 Aug 2012:,

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