In 1950, former Royal Air Force officer Tony Sale built a 6-foot-tall humanoid robot, one of Britain’s first, from the scraps of a crashed bomber. After spending 45 years stored in a garage, it’s walking just fine.
Tony Sale is now 79, but he built his first robot, George, in 1940 when he was just 12 years old. As he grew so did George—subsequent versions of the robot grew taller and more complex, adding a moving jaw to simulate speech and a radio remote control.
Sale joined the air force in 1949, teaching pilots how to use radar at the RAF Debden base in Essex England. During this time he constructed his largest and most sophisticated George to date, building the robot out of aluminium and duralumin from a Wellington bomber that crashed near the base. It was six feet tall and used two motorcycle batteries that allowed to walk, turn its head, move its arms, and sit down.
Though six-foot George gained some attention in the press, computers at the time weren’t advanced enough to make him an “intelligent” robot, Sale explains and eventually George was packed away in his creator’s garage. Until recently:
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.
Awwww! What a nice robot reanimation story. Now Sale’s donating George to the The National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park, which Sale himself helped found. A much nicer home for a historic robot than a garage, I’d say. [DailyMail]