Remotely operated vehicles were demonstrated in the late 19th Century in the form of several types of remotely controlled torpedoes.The early 1870s saw remotely controlled torpedoes by John Ericsson (pneumatic), John Louis Lay (electric wire guided), and Victor von Scheliha (electric wire guided).
Robots can be autonomous or semi-autonomous and range from humanoids such as Honda's Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility (ASIMO) and TOSY's TOSY Ping Pong Playing Robot (TOPIO) to industrial robots, medical operating robots, patent assist robots, dog therapy robots, collectively programmed swarm robots, UAV drones such as General Atomics MQ-1 Predator, and even microscopic nano robots.
By mimicking a lifelike appearance or automating movements, a robot may convey a sense of intelligence or thought of its own.
There are also accounts of flying automata in the Han Fei Zi and other texts, which attributes the 5th century BC Mohist philosopher Mozi and his contemporary Lu Ban with the invention of artificial wooden birds (ma yuan) that could successfully fly.
His mechanism had a programmable drum machine with pegs (cams) that bumped into little levers that operated percussion instruments.
From the time of ancient civilization there have been many accounts of user-configurable automated devices and even automata resembling animals and humans, designed primarily as entertainment.
As mechanical techniques developed through the Industrial age, there appeared more practical applications such as automated machines, remote-control and wireless remote-control. by the Czech writer, Karel Čapek but it was Karel's brother Josef Čapek who was the word's true inventor.
The drummer could be made to play different rhythms and different drum patterns by moving the pegs to different locations.
In Renaissance Italy, Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) sketched plans for a humanoid robot around 1495.
In ancient China, the 3rd century text of the Lie Zi describes an account of humanoid automata, involving a much earlier encounter between Chinese emperor King Mu of Zhou and a mechanical engineer known as Yan Shi, an 'artificer'.
Yan Shi proudly presented the king with a life-size, human-shaped figure of his mechanical 'handiwork' made of leather, wood, and artificial organs.
In France, between 17, Jacques de Vaucanson exhibited several life-sized automatons: a flute player, a pipe player and a duck.