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45-Year Old Robot – Still Alive and Walking

November 23, 2010

The 45-Year Old Robot "George"

Who would have thought that a Tin-Man-looking robot will still work after being left standing in a garage for more than 4 decades! This is not actually a cosplay for a Wizard of OZ character back in the 50’s but this is a true robot built by Tony Sale, ex-officer of the Royal Air Force in 1950.

The humanoid robot named “George” was the first ever built in Britain standing 6 feet made from crashed bomber scrap metals because of Sale’s fascination in building robots ever since he was a kid. He built his very first robot when he was 12 continuing to improve it as he grew up ending up creating a robot that has more complex features. Features of this early man-made robot include jaw movement, speech simulation, and radio remote control operated.

The most sophisticated George robot was born in 1949 and it started during Sale’s career in the air force teaching radar use to pilots in Essex England’s RAF Debden base. George is made out of the aluminum and duralumin scraps obtained from the crashed Wellington bomber near the base. With the use of the two motorcycle batteries, George is able to sit down, move its arms, turn its head, and walk. Now that Sale is already 79 years old, George is already 45.

In that era when computers are not yet advanced to give artificial intelligence, people are just amazed with it for a while but eventually become unnoticed. And this was the time when George was left resting in the garage for years. Not until the creator misses his creation. According to Sales:

“I dug him out of the garage where he had been standing for 45 years…I had a fair bit of confidence he would work again and luckily I was right. I put some oil on the bearings and added a couple of new lithium batteries in his legs, switched him on and away he went. It was a lovely moment.”

Sales, the proud builder of George, are so happy seeing him walk again. This can be a touching true-to-life human-to-machine story to date! At present, Sale is donating George to a better home – The National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park.

Photo credits: Geoff Robinson @DailyMail via Gizmodo

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