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Last Updated: Wednesday May 18 2005 16:22 GMT

Robots then and now

James Burke and water clock
Possibly the earliest ancestor of today's robot is the clepsydra, or water clock, which measured time using a flow of water.

Ctesibius of Alexandria, a Greek physicist and inventor, is said to have constructed such a clock about 250 BC.

Today, robots in factories do a lot of the physical labour people used to do.

In car factories, for example, one-armed robots lift, weld, and spray-paint cars. They mimic the movement of a human arm and hand.

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