There was a robotics study that went around the blogosphere a week or two ago talking about robot adoption rates on a country by country basis. I can’t seem to find it at the moment, but not surprisingly, per capita, Japan kicked the world’s butt in terms of robot-to-human ratio.
I think the USA was somewhere behind Switzerland.
Regardless, it shouldn’t also be that surprising that the Japanese were amongst the first to have detailed and working robots.
Robot-blogger Tim Hornyak recently took a tour of the Matsumoto Timepiece Museum in Nagano, where he happened to see some rare manuscripts with detailed plans for building karakuri ningyo, or clockwork dolls:
The manuscript is called Karakuri Zui(sometimes read as Kikou Zui) or “Illustrated Machinery.” It was written by Hanzo Hosokawa, a mechanical engineer, astronomer and inventor from the domain of Tosa on Shikoku Island. The three-volume treatise details how to make four kinds of wadokei clocks and nine types of karakuri dolls including the famous tea-serving doll. Known as Japan’s oldest mechanical engineering manuscript, the book has meticulously written notes on how to dress the dolls in kimono.
In Japan, proper engineering has always looked good – even in 1796.
Very interesting stuff.