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"I did more research, and realized I almost would rather be a biologist than a writer, because there was incredible stuff going on!"
- Greg Bear

Robotic Arm  
  A specialized robotic reaching and grasping device.  

Early use of the idea of a specialized robotic arm.

Suddenly the mower stopped and clicked excitedly. A panel in its side snapped open and a cranelike arm reached out. Grasping steel fingers fished around in the grass, came up triumphantly with a stone clutched tightly, dropped the stone into a small container, disappeared back into the panel again. The lawn mower gurgled, purred on again, following its swath.


(Robotic Mower from 'City' by Clifford Simak)

From City, by Clifford Simak.
Published by Astounding Science Fiction in 1944
Additional resources -

In this case, the arm belongs to a robotic lawn mower. Compare this to the steel tentacles of the invading Martian machines in H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds (1898) and Robert Heinlein's waldoes from his 1942 novella Waldo. Oh, and don't forget the sensor arm used by R2D2 in Star Wars (1976).

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from City
  More Ideas and Technology by Clifford Simak
  Tech news articles related to City
  Tech news articles related to works by Clifford Simak

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