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Four Famous Film and TV Robots and the Technology They Inspired


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UPDATE: This post written by Beth Kelly

Films and TV shows with robot characters are responsible for bringing us some of the most inventive and inspiring storylines ever created. Robots, and the people who design them, are curious about the world and its inhabitants. How could things be simpler, sillier, or just better? Robotic technology seeks to answer those questions, but so do some of our favorite film and TV robot friends. Lets look back at 4 of some of the most innovative robot characters of their time, and some modern-day technology they might have nudged into creation.

Rosie Robot from The Jetsons

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This famous homemaker-bot kept the Jetsons space pad clean as could be with the latest in futuristic technology. She makes more of an appearance in the 1980’s cartoons, even watching over Judy and Elroy Jetson on occasion. In her bag of robotic cleaning tricks she had a robotic vaccum – much like the wildly popular Roomba. She also took care of the Jetson’s dog, a model not unlike some of the “companion robots” that have appeared from several companies. And of course, even the concept of having one’s own “robotic maid” ties into the idea behind home automation, an increasingly prevalent trend.

HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey

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HAL and the rest of 2001’s prescient props, were remarkably spot-on in their depiction of modern day communication tools. HAL is a robot endowed with artificial intelligence, who slowly begins to malfunction. Ultimately the orders are given to disconnect him, but not before he wrecks havoc on the crew and ship. HAL’s haywire AI is representative of many of our modern-day fears surrounding robots who might one day out-smart us. While 2001 also showed us iPads and the Internet; it also suggested that future civilizations might need to watch out for out-of-control automatons.

 

Robocop from Robocop

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This robo-police officer was one of the most menacing good-guys to come from the 1980’s. However, the reality of a robo-military and police force is no longer limited to sci-fi. Man and machine come together on the battlefield, as well as on the streets of America in today’s society. In addition to cameras, radios, and GPS systems, modern-day warriors and police are equipped with state-of-the-art tracking technology, as well as live feeds streamed straight to their helmets. And while it may have also accurately predicted the dystopian Detroit of the recent past, that could be changing – since declaring bankruptcy in 2013, the city has slowly been making a comeback.

 

The Borg from Star Trek

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These famously evil robots suggest that the future of humanity is a bionic one, in which our body parts are melded with artificial ones to create something entirely new. The integration of man and machine has already begun in medicine, with doctors developing new means to heal via robotic surgeons as well as artificial organs. These advanced creatures were also efficient in their use of alternative energy resources – you never saw a Borg stop at a space gas station, because they had long ago abandoned fossil fuels for something much more efficient. Black holes maybe?

This post was written by Beth Kelly