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An electric dog, the ancestor of all phototropic self-directing robots, was designed in 1912 and constructed in the USA by researchers John Hammond, Jr. and Benjamin Miessner who worked in the field of 'Radiodynamics', or the wireless control of mobile torpedoes, in particular the so-called “teleautomata” or “self-acting automata. Ethical Issues in Robotics, Bionics, and AI; Guglielmo Tamburrini °Dept. of Physical Sciences, Università di Napoli Federico II, Italy Napoli, 20 maggio 2005
This machine, designed in 1912 by two American experts in radio-controlled devices, John Hammond Jr. and Benjamin Miessner, was actually built by the latter. Two years later, Miessner presented this machine in the Purdue Engineering Review under the name of “electric dog,” by which it became popularly known. Miessner described in some detail the behavior of the electric dog in Radiodynamics: The Wireless Control of Torpedoes and Other Mechanisms [Miessner, 1916]. Intelligent Machines and Warfare, Roberto Cordeschi and Guglielmo Tamburrini, (ECAO 2004)
[Hammond’s dirigible torpedo] is fitted with apparatus similar to that of the electric dog, so that if the enemy turns their search light on it, it will immediately be guided toward that enemy automatically. B. F. Miessner, Radiodynamics, 1916
In 1915, the radio-controlled torpedo embodying the simple self-orientation mechanism of Hammond Jr. and Miessner’s electric dog was said “to inherit almost superhuman intelligence.” Cordeschi, The Discovery of the Artificial - Introduction xv (see below)
The electric dog, initially a “scientific curiosity,” may within the very near future become in truth a real ‘dog of war,’without fear, without heart, without the human element so often susceptible to trickery, with but one purpose: to overtake and slay whatever comes within range of its senses at the will of its master.” Miessner, 1916
Considering the circuit diagram below:
assuming the black blob separating the two arms of the Pony Relay is an insulator it would appear that;
A description of the robot is in:
Roberto Cordeschi, The Discovery of the Artificial: Behavior, Mind and Machines Before and Beyond Cybernetics, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, 2002.
see - http://w3.uniroma1.it/cordeschi/Inglese.html
and Miessner himself describes the robot in the Electrical Experimenter, 1915, p. 202.
Thank you David Mitchell for telling me about the Electric Dog.
Contributor - Reuben Hoggett