1933 – Giant Walking Bridge – M. Clemients (French)

robot walking bridge 1933 x640 1933   Giant Walking Bridge   M. Clemients (French)

During 1933, engineer's were determining how the Golden Gate Bridge[1] was to be built.

robot walking bridge 1933 5 x640 1933   Giant Walking Bridge   M. Clemients (French)

Source: Modern Mechanix and Inventions, Dec 1933.

One engineer's suggestion for the solution of the problem of sinking caissons[2] is depicted here in this picture of a "walking bridge." Definite placement of caissons has always been an engineering bugaboo when they are floated over a spot and sunk. Especially is this true in harbors where there are side rips, or in rivers where strong currents are found. While the walking version may be impracticable, a caterpillar footed bridge is certainly plausible and has many merrits from a constructional standpoint.


The size of the caissons which must be built and sunk to enable piers to be built has called forth one of the most novel engineering proposals of recent years - still another bridge, a “Walking Bridge” if you please - which will walk to the location with the caisson and there accurately sink it upon the exact spot required.

Caissons are an essential impedimenta to bridge building of this type, and they are hard to handle in tide rips or rivers which have currents. M. Clemients, French engineer of Paris, has proposed a mobile structure which could pick up the caisson and either by walking with it, or on caterpillar treads, move to the spot desired to muck the caisson in.

[1] The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate strait, the mile-wide, three-mile-long channel between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean.

[2] caisson from wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caisson_(engineering). In geotechnical engineering, a caisson (/ˈkeɪsən/ or /ˈkeɪsɒn/) is a watertight retaining structure used, for example, to work on the foundations of a bridge pier, for the construction of a concrete dam, or for the repair of ships. These are constructed such that the water can be pumped out, keeping the working environment dry. When piers are to be built using an open caisson and it is not practical to reach suitable soil, friction pilings may be driven to form a suitable sub-foundation. These piles are connected by a foundation pad upon which the column pier is erected.

See all the known Steam Men and early Walking Machines here.

See all the known early Humanoid Robots here.

1916 – “King Grey” the Electric Titan – Vern Pieper (American)

Illustrated World 1916 12 titan robot 1916   King Grey the Electric Titan   Vern Pieper (American)

I first saw this mentioned in David M. Earle's interesting book titled "Re-Covering Modernism: Pulps, Paperbacks, and the Prejudice of Form", but John Ptak's recent post reminded me of it. I have used his image of the prototype walking machine.

electric titan 1916 prototype 1916   King Grey the Electric Titan   Vern Pieper (American)

The model of King Grey, the Electric Titan.  Although called "Electric", the motive power is by two large 40 H.P. automobile engines. A smaller engine will generate electricity to be used for sensors and controls. See below article for further details.

Another source.
The Colac Herald [Victoria, Australia], 30 Jan 1918
It is highly improbable, as we have said before, that military "Tanks" will stop where they are. The invention is too revolutionery not to excite the interest of engineering experts, and, moreover, the field is so sure and promising that it must attract the creative. The ironclad commenced its career in much about the
same way. It was just an old wooden hulk cased in the railway rails of the day. The Tank is merely an armoured plus-motor-lorry on caterpillar wheels, which were originally devised for agricultural purposes.
Here is an invention, due to an American electrician, Mr. Vern Pieper. He has devised a wonderful walking giant! At the present moment, he has completed only the model, but the real giant-a nine foot marvel of steel plates, knuckles, and cog wheels-is now in the process of being forged.
The movement in the feet and legs in the little model is so perfect that his steps appear natural; he may be stopped standing on the toe of one foot and the heel of the other, or in almost any natural position that would he assumed by a human being.
When fully grown King Grey-as the inventor calls him-will be 9 feet tall; his weight will be 750 pounds. His anatomical proportions will be: distance from hip joint to the ground, 4 feet 9 inches; distance from toe of boot to rear of vehicle, 21 feet; foot 16 inches long; 7 inches wide; step, 42 inches. The legs will be weighted with mercury to maintain a low centre of gravity.
The chief achievements of King Grey will be drawing a vehicle weighing over 1,500 pounds, containing four persons, any distance desired. That is the hope of the inventor, and the hope is not beyond the realms of possibility.
An intricate mechanism is required to direct the movements of the giant. Besides the two 40-horse power automobile type engines required as propulsive force, a small 2-horse-power engine will be used to govern an electrical nervous system. This small engine will operate a set of feather clutches, controlled by the movement of an electric plumb-bob in the giants head. The bob, moving in accordance with the slope of the ground will cause the giant to lean forward when ascending a hill and backwards when descending.
King Grey will be caused to turn corners by shortening the stroke of the inside leg and lengthening the stroke of the outside one.
He will be connected to the vehicle he draws by two steel shafts, 5 inches in diameter and 8 feet long, bolted to his body at the hips; his hands will rest on the ends of the shafts, and it will appear as if he were a live man of extraordinary size, pulling the vehicle after the manner of a horse hitched to a dog cart.
Four sledge-like runners will be mounted under the car, one at each wheel, and at the slightest sign of a mechanical derangement that might tend to cause a wreck, the runners will automatically drop to the ground and the wheels at the same instant, rise from the ground. The car, thus converted into a sledge, will act as an enormous break and bring the machine to an instant stop.
The nation, says Mr. Cracker, that could put into the field a legion of steel mechanical giants-filled with men armed with guns-charging down over the hills, smashing with their huge feet through the feebly obstructing barbed wire, leaping the trenches, and massacring the helpless defenders, would, especially if the thing could be done by surprise, demoralise, and even rout a whole army. Other scientific miracles have been frequent. Why, it is asked by our authority, may not such a monster as the Electrical Titan be part of the mechanical equiptment of the armies of the future ?– "Popular Science Siftings."

See all the known Steam Men and early Walking Machines here.

See all the known early Humanoid Robots here.


1936 – Robot Remote Controlled Train – Jiro Aizawa (Japanese)

steampunk robot x640 1936   Robot Remote Controlled Train   Jiro Aizawa (Japanese)

Aizawa's Remote Controlled Train (Popular Mechanics, Nov, 1936) article was popularised in blog.modernmechanix.com . Sadly, Jiro Aizawa was not named as the inventor in the article.

Robot Engine Built in Japan Is Driven by Remote Control

Automatic train control is understood to be a feature of a mysterious robot locomotive model built in Japan. Streamlined, but of a design unlike any conventional locomotive, the details of its mechanism have not been revealed. It is believed, however, that it will be operated electrically by remote control and will be equipped with a braking mechanism which will stop it automatically if the rails ahead become dangerous.

How do I know it's Jiro Aizawa? Well, coincidentally I recently acquired a book by Aizawa (in Japanese) with pictures of this train. Further, I have another press-released image and caption that gives a little more description, such as his name!

aizawa train 1936 press 1 x640 1936   Robot Remote Controlled Train   Jiro Aizawa (Japanese)

Mysterious robot engine has been developed in Japan by Jiro Aizawa. Shown above with model of engine. Complete details are not given but it is believed the engine will be driven by remote control and will have a special device to stop the engine should something happen to the rails.

aizawa train 1936 press robot x169 1936   Robot Remote Controlled Train   Jiro Aizawa (Japanese)

Not easily noticed in the Popular Mechanics image (above-top) is the robot driver of the train, seen here from the Press image.

aizawa 1948 book 0004 x640 1936   Robot Remote Controlled Train   Jiro Aizawa (Japanese)

aizawa 1948 book 0005 x640 1936   Robot Remote Controlled Train   Jiro Aizawa (Japanese)

aizawa 1948 book 0006 x640 1936   Robot Remote Controlled Train   Jiro Aizawa (Japanese)

Other train images from Aizawa's book. Note that I am unable to translate the captions for the photos.

aizawa 1948 book 0007 x640 1936   Robot Remote Controlled Train   Jiro Aizawa (Japanese)

Another remote controlled train also see in image on page <3> above.

aizawa 1948 book 0003 x640 1936   Robot Remote Controlled Train   Jiro Aizawa (Japanese)

Train bogie in Aizawa's workshop along with some of his early robots.

1936 Dreyfuss Mercury Streamliner Train x468 1936   Robot Remote Controlled Train   Jiro Aizawa (Japanese)

Although Aizawa's train looks like an anthropomorphised armadillo by todays standards, it is contemporary with other streamlined trains popularised by designers such as Henry Dreyfuss and his "Mercury" Streamliners, 

aizawa 1948 book 0001 x640 1936   Robot Remote Controlled Train   Jiro Aizawa (Japanese)

Aizawa was also responsible for the robotized "Monkey Train" at Tokyo's Ueno Zoo, but I'll write more on that in a later post. See here.

See all the known early Humanoid Robots including Aizawa's Robots here.


1979 – “Tomaton” the Robot – Lenny Schectman (American)

TOMATON robot Lenny Schectman 79 press x640 1979   Tomaton the Robot   Lenny Schectman (American)
Ft. Lauderdale - TOMATON and his creator Lenny Schectman. July 1979.
Tomaton, short for Automaton, is 6-foot tall.
Lenny Schectman became involved in robotics mainly because of his interest in technology allowing the brain to be tapped to signal function in limbs of paraplegics and quadraplegics. He wanted to enter the biomedical engineering field but lacked the proper degrees. The 33-year-old bachelor explained he made the first 14-inch tabletop robot at age 19 as a conversation piece for parties. His next was five feet tall. But because robots were not "in", he ditched it until deciding to build Tomaton in 1979.
Now the cement truck driver spend countless hours foraging in hardwarw stores for assorted wires, light bulbs, aluminum screening, copper rings and other robot-related paraphernalia.
Extract from Boca Raton News, October 3, 1983.
TOMATON robot Lenny Schectman 79 press 3 x640 1979   Tomaton the Robot   Lenny Schectman (American)
Control Box for TOMATON.

Schectman later built another robot called "Apollo" around 1983.

 1979   Tomaton the Robot   Lenny Schectman (American)
Apollo is 100-pounds in weight, 4-foot 3-inches high. Apollo rolls on wheels and its head revolves and its chest lights up. Laser-treated plexiglas gave the red and gold lights in its peaked head a prism effect. Apollo required 2,500 hours to build and cost [in 1983] $10,000 in parts.
I do not have a good image of Apollo, and very little information about Tomaton. Please contact me if you have further information.

See the complete list of early Mechanical Men and Robots here.


1935 – Unknown Mechanical Man – (American)

mechanical man 1935 boston x640 1935   Unknown Mechanical Man   (American)

Source: (I've lost and been unable to relocate the source to this image. Please contact me if you do know the source.)

This early Robot may have been in the Boston area in 1935. It looks capable of standing and sitting, raising and lowering either arm, and appears to have microphones in its ears. Like most of this era, it most likely would have responded to a sequence of commands.  In its right hand is a pistol; a popular 'trick' at the time was to, upon a verbal command,  raise an arm and fire a gun.

See all the known early Humanoid Robots of this era here.