The automatic servant of Philon (3rd c. B.C.)
The first operating robot of humanity

This was a humanoid robot in the form of a female servant (life-size), which in her right hand held a jug of wine (oinochoe). When the visitor placed a cup in the palm of her left hand, she automatically poured wine, initially, and then she added water into the cup when desired.

Inside the servant, there were two airtight containers with wine and water, respectively. At their bottom there were two tubes leading their content through her right hand to the lip of the wine jug. Two air pipes started at the top of the containers, went through their bottom and led curved into her stomach. Her left arm was connected, through the articulation, to her shoulders; while a helical rod (spring) that was positioned in extension of the restraining rod raised it. Two pipes started at the same point (joint) and came down penetrating and freeing the curved perforated ends of the air pipes. The pipes of the joint had two holes at their ends, with the hole that communicated with the wine container preceding that which communicated with the water container. When the cup was placed into the servant’s palm, her left hand came down and the tubes of the joint lifted. The hole in one pipe was aligned with the air pipe of the wine container, air entered the container and wine flowed from the tube into the cup. When the cup of wine was half-full, the hand due to weight descended further, the passage of the air pipe of wine was obstructed and the flow stopped. At the same time, the other tube was aligned with the air pipe of the water container and it began to flow, thus, diluting the wine. When the cup was full, the hand (due to weight) descended further, the passage of the air pipe with water was obstructed and the flow stopped. Also, if the cup was removed at any moment, the left hand rose, the tubes of the joint descended, cutting off the air pipes, creating vacuum in the containers and stopping the liquid flow. The servant then filled the visitor’s cup with wine or diluted with water of desired quantity depending on the time it was pulled away from her palm.



SOURCE: Philon of Byzantium, Pneumatics.