Da Vinci and Robotics?

I had always known that Leonardo Da Vinci was a bright fellow who studied not only the human form, but also engineering.  I was reminded  how many engineering applications he either created or perfected during his lifetime today while visiting an exhibit of Da Vinci machines made from his 500-year-old designs.  This exhibition presents over sixty models grouped in themes: War machines, Flying machines, Nautical & Hydraulic machines as well as devices illustrating the Principles of Mechanics.  His sketches of the human body and of horses bodies are fascinating.  But the thing that took me most by surprise was Da Vinci’s study of robotics.  According to the exhibit, he began considering the creation of a robot started while he was an apprentice.  He designed the robot below based on the inner workings of the human body.  (Don’t forget, Da Vinci dissected many bodies so as to understand how the human body functioned.)   He designed this robot using levers and counter levers, joints, and with ropes and pulleys acting as muscles and tendons.  It turns out that the King of France commissioned Da Vinci to create a robotic lion that would walk forward and then open his breastplate to display a cluster of lilies.  Imagine — this was 500 years ago, before electricity and electronics.  It is amazing!  I particularly like this robot below … notice the pulley system it uses.

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