It’s easier than ever to build your own robot, but humans have been building automatons since before anyone had even thought of electronics. One beautiful example is the Silver Swan, built in the 18th century.
The brainchild of [John Joseph Merlin] and silversmith [James Cox], the swan features three separate clockwork drives, appearing to swim in a moving river where it snatches fish in its motorized beak. Mark Twain said the swan had “a living grace about his movements and living intelligence in his eyes” when he saw it at the International Exhibition in Paris in 1867.
The swan has been delighting people for 250 years, and recently received some much-deserved maintenance. In the video below, you can see museum staff disassembling the swan including its 113 neck rings which protect the three different chain drives controlling its lifelike motions. Hopefully, with some maintenance, this automaton will still be going strong in 2273.