We Can Rebuild It: A Project to Resurrect the UK's First Robot


In 1928, the UK's first humanoid robot debuted at the Model Engineering Exhibition in London. The robot, nicknamed "Eric," disappeared less than a year later and was never seen again. To pay homage to the important milestone in robotics, Engadget reports that a Kickstarter campaign has been launched to rebuild the moving, talking robot based on archival information at the Science Museum in London.

Eric opening the Model Engineering Exhibition in London in 1928, as shown in Popular Science Monthly. Credit: Science Museum

According to the campaign page, Eric was built by engineers A.H. Reffell and Captain William H. Richards (both veterans of World War II) just eight years after the word "robot" was first used by Karel Čapek in the play Rossum's Universal Robots. The Reffell Family History website writes that Eric went to the United States in 1929. Three years later, Richards created a "more expensive" robot named George, but no one knows what happened to Eric or its parts after its trip to America.

With the help of expert roboticist Giles Walker, the Science Museum wants to recreate Eric ahead of its "Robots" exhibition next summer. The project goal is set at $50,471, and rewards for pledgers include T-shirts and tote bags with illustrations of Eric on them, DIY mini replicas of the robot, VIP passes to the opening party and exhibition, and engraved name plates near the robot's display. Click through to the campaign to find out more about the robot and to contribute to its rebirth.

[h/t Engadget]

[Images via Kickstarter]