G T Ferguson of Innsbruck, Missouri stands beside his robot prototype, 1920. The F-19 ” Under-Sea Excavator” was intended to use its formidable hooks and claws to extract treasure from sunken ships. The massive head contained a cinecamera, which was linked by radio-control to a projectio system on the surface.
Ferguson claimed the robot’s “Electro-Chemical Neuron Energizer Brain” he installed in the machine gave it a degree of autonomy, and initial tests seemed to prove it. Things were looking up, and even the army took notice, commissioning Ferguson to design a new robot for prospective military use.
Things came crashing down four years later, when the F-19 killed Ferguson during a public demonstration. While eventually subdued, the incident killed popular interest in robotics for the next fifty years.
Fun fact: the F-19 was the model for the Handy Man in the popular discgame Bio-Shock: Eternal
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