erkeley beckons "Squee" with flashlight - Life Magazine 19th March 1956
Edmund erkeley beckons "Squee" with flashlight - Life Magazine, 19th March 1956. By this time the robot was operating on a wired power supply rather than batteries.
Cover and first page of an article by Edmund C Berkeley in Radio Electronics December 1951 issue regarding the Squee robot
Cover and first page of an article by Edmund C Berkeley in Radio Electronics December 1951 issue regarding the Squee robot
Detail map of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States,Mountain View, California, United States

A: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, B: Mountain View, California, United States

Edmund Berkeley's Squee, "The First of the True Robots"

The Squee robot
The Squee robot created in 1950 by Berkeley Enterprises to be used at trade shows to "stop" traffic. It mimics a squirrel taking a tennis ball (nut) to its nest. It has photoelectric cells for "eyes" and a motor controlled "claw" for grasping the tennis ball.

In 1951 American computer scientist and popular writer Edmund Berkeley developed Squee, the Electronic Robot Squirrel. Squee has been called, "the first of the true robots," because it was the first robot able to carry out a defined task, as opposed to just steering towards light. The task was collecting "nuts," which in the robot's case meant tennis balls. Squee was also the first robot to have a manipulator under automatic control. 

"Squee (named after 'squirrel') is an electronic robot squirrel. It contains four sense organs (two phototubes, two contact switches), three acting organs (a drive motor, a steering motor, and a motor which opens and closes the scoop or 'hands'), and a small brain of half a dozen relays. It will hunt for a 'nut'. The 'nut' is a tennis ball designated by a member of the audience who steadily holds a flashlight above the ball, pointing the light at Squee. Then Squee approaches, picks up the 'nut' in its 'hands' (the scoop), stops paying attention to the steady light, sees instead a light that goes on and off 120 times a second shining over its 'nest', takes the 'nut' to its 'nest', there leaves the nuts, and then returns to hunting more 'nuts'. When Squee is operating, it is a dramatic and exciting example of a robot. It has been exhibited in New York, Pittsburgh, and Minneapolis, and has always entertained and excited the audience. The machine however is sensitive to the surrounding light level, and usually has to be shown in a room about 8 by 10 ft. with only a small amount of overhead light and black curtained walls. Data: completed; rather well finished but not professionally; 75% reliable; maintenance, difficult; our costs, about $3,000" (Berkeley, Small Robots--Report [1956]).

Berkeley constructed only one example of Squee. It is preserved at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, the gift of Gordon Bell.

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