Robot Monk

The Smithsonian has a Robot Monk made of wood and iron on display. It has been 400 years and the robot is still working. The mechanician, Juanelo Turriano, made the monk for Emperor Charles V in response to his son’s recovery from a deadly illness.

Driven by a key-wound spring, the monk walks in a square, striking his chest with his right arm, raising and lowering a small wooden cross and rosary in his left hand, turning and nodding his head, rolling his eyes, and mouthing silent obsequies. From time to time, he brings the cross to his lips and kisses it. Listen to the Podcast – A Clockwork Miracle by Radiolab to get the interesting details of this innovative piece of machinery.