Dr. Nikola Tesla – Father of Humanoid Robotics

Every human born on planet earth is blessed with talent and individuality. It is something that no one can take away from him. Wealth, fame and all material things can be robbed, cheated and taken away but this individuality of his is God’s real gift to him. The desire to succeed in whatever field a person chooses is only met if he feels its need equal to the need of air to breath. This quality was best exemplified in Dr. Nikola Tesla.


Dr. Nikola Tesla’s desire to do something for his God, science and fellowmen was so great that he was willing to face any difficulty and sacrifice anything to achieve the same. His every thought, every living moment was utilized in the pursuit of making mankind’s life on this planet easier, happier and the inspiration he got for this was by observing nature. We must thank Dr. Nikola Tesla for his vision, efforts and inventions which today are making our life easier and saving our time and efforts. 

Since his youth Dr. Nikola Tesla had the habit of analyzing his surroundings and making observations and drawing conclusions on the same. Over a period of time, Dr. Tesla realized that our every thought, feeling or voluntary action has its basis in the stimuli from the external occurrences and impressions in our environment which, we do not register because of the lack of training. A simple example to understand this can be taken in form of the sweet smell of a flower that evokes a feeling of happiness in us while an abuse or insult by others makes us feel hurt. Many of the times we even do not think while doing few things as it become reflex for us e.g. drinking water from a glass.

Dr. Nikola Tesla believed that we do things without completely understanding that is to say we fail to understand the reason that drives our actions. Dr. Tesla described all living beings as automata i.e. a person or animal that acts in a monotonous, routine manner, without active intelligence, driven by external impulses. He believed that these impulses or thoughts come to each human being directly from God and that very few people master the ability to TUNE IN to these vibrations and this was the very cause of misery in the world. Hence Dr. Tesla imagined a world that provided basic opportunities to each human being like food, shelter, clothing and education equally and then allowed the individual to progress to his and his society’s higher or optimum state.

This eventually inspired Dr. Nikola Tesla to construct an automaton, which by analogy to the human body, would have means for the motion, direction, and sensors to get impression of the outside world. By doing this, Dr. Tesla intuitively heralded the age of Humanoid Robotics, the field that is presently in the state of greatest scientific and technological expansion in the world, with the unimagined future possibilities. He thought of constructing an automaton which would be a man's mechanical counterpart, and which would react to the external stimuli in a human-like manner. He concluded that such an automaton would have to be equipped with driving elements, control organs, and with one or more sensors for adapting to the external environment. Such a machine, as conceived by Dr. Tesla, would act like a living organism, and would possess all main mechanical characteristics or properties of living beings like the ability for independent thought and action. He believed that some properties of living beings like reproduction should not be copied at all. Dr. Tesla imagined that the introduction of such a machine would reduce human effort, increase productivity and free each human being to achieve his true purpose in life which was much higher than basic human needs.


In an effort to this end, Dr. Tesla conducted a demonstration in 1898 at Madison Square Garden in New York where he navigated a remote controlled boat using a wireless command post (console of a video game). Dr. Tesla's robot-boat was fitted with an antenna, which received the radio waves coming from the command post where Dr. Tesla was standing. Those radio waves were received by a radio-sensitive device which converted the radio waves into directions controlling the mechanical movements of the propellers on the boat. Dr. Tesla navigated his six-foot-long boat in patterns through the water, and then stopped and started the craft. He even had the forethought to equip his boats with a crude logic gate which prevented them from being taken over by another transmitter other than his own. This means that way back in 1898 itself Dr. Nikola Tesla had thought about anti-hacking mechanism for his robotic boat. This just, sheerly just goes to show the true and genuine holistic intelligence that this man possessed which was decades ahead of his contemporaries. 

During this experiment Dr. Tesla changed the boat's direction, with manually operated controls on the command post. The crowd that witnessed the demonstration made outrageous claims about the workings of the boat, such as magic, telepathy, and even claimed that the boat was being piloted by a trained monkey hidden inside but it was only and only Dr. Tesla’s genius that had brought this contraption to life.

Dr. Nikola Tesla tried to sell this idea to the US Navy and proposed to develop pilot-less submarines or torpedo missiles but in vain. The establishment could not appreciate the potential of Dr. Tesla’s weapon for anti-ship uses or of the broader idea of remote controlled vehicles. The reason for rejection of Dr. Tesla’s idea was obvious. It was Thomas Edison who was heading the selection panel of the US Navy. With this fact known I am sure I need not explain any further the reason for rejection of Dr. Nikola Tesla’s ideas. Further, Dr. Tesla offered these weapons to Great Britain also but again without any success. The military establishment was least interested not just in using the technology but even in exploring its potential uses. The world was not ready for such an invention that was atleast 100 years ahead of its time and this fact is underlined by the event where the first remote radio-controlled bomb was seen by the world for first time when the Germans used it in 1940 during the Second World War. This technology was primarily similar to one proposed by Dr. Tesla but was an infant compared to what he was trying to propose.

Dr. Nikola Tesla’s genius is evident today when machines and robotics are penetrating even the minutest aspect of our lives. Today unmanned vehicles have started becoming the norm and drones are being used to deliver books and other produce. Robots are already used for various dirty, difficult and dangerous jobs in various fields like manufacturing cars to constructing buildings to defusing bombs to cleaning gutters. Hence to think and execute such a feat a hundred years before the first steps in this direction are taken and pioneer the field of such potential can only be achieved if one possesses immense faith in God and dedication to one’s goals. This was another invention and another story of Dr. Nikola Tesla, a visionary much, much ahead of his times.

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