“Is it about robots?” That’s the question most frequently asked when One More Robot is mentioned in conversation. Well, no is the answer, and please direct your attention to some of the fine options available to you in robotics journalism next time your at a newstand. But rather than shunning away from this assumption, we thought we’d create our definitive piece on robots in popular culture. Using an incredibly complex polling method, we asked the entire staff for their own favourites, opening the floodgates to all sorts of suggestions, whether it be robots from films, cartoons, books, songs, actual fully functioning robots, whatever (there may be one or two iffy selections - no letters please). Eventually thrashing out a top 50, with a blurb on each from one of their selectees on what makes them so special. Join us each day this week as we count out our favorite bots, 10 at a time.
Compiled by Declan Aylward, David Bolger, Seán Earley, Brogen Hayes, Carol Killeen, Niamh King, Ian Maleney, Jesse Melia, Rachael Murphy, Laura O’Brien, Jason Robinson, Stephen Rogers & Dean Van Nguyen
As seen in: Dr. Who
The Daleks are not actually robots. Their alien creatures from the planet Skaro, encased in cylinder shaped “travel machines”, who, through the work of some evil experiments, were left with no concept of compassion or love. Instead they survive solely on hatred and malice. Their constant efforts to destroy all non-Dalek life forms are relentlessly thwarted by the, ever valiant, Doctor Who.
Introduced in 1963, the good doctor’s eternal enemies were an instant hit. Killed off in the very first episode, they were soon brought back due to huge popular demand. Throughout the sixties the Daleks took over British popular culture, immediately recognisable along with their lovable catchphrase “Exterminate!”. What followed was known as “Dalekmania” as the Daleks surfaced time and time again, from the music of the Go-Go’s to the Oxford Dictionary. They were even put on a stamp, a lasting reminder of the British nation’s love for large, destructive, pseudo-robots, with a penchant for trying to kill a national treasure! --Niamh King
As seen in: Transformers
Transformers has been around for quite some time, and in that time the toy, animated and film series has spawned hundreds of different Autobots, Decepticons, Dinobots, Dancebots, Sandwichbots; the list is endless. But in this vast fictional world of cybernetic betrayal and danger, one transformer stands out simply because he is the most evil and therefore the coolest, obviously. Decepticon leader Megatron is a soulless, irredeemable menace. And to cap it off, his name is Megatron, which in itself oozes superiority. Any name which starts with the word “mega” is a definite signifier of confidence and self belief. Even in the hit 2007 movie based on his exploits he awakens from a century spanning cryogenic sleep and happily states “I am Megatron!” before transforming into a jet and flying away.
Megatron’s role over the years has generally been that of a dominant battlefield overlord with few equals. He is at his happiest when battling his nemesis Optimus Prime and uttering his rather brilliant sayings such as “Lesser creatures are the playthings of my will” and my personal favourite: “Everything is fodder”. --Jesse Melia
As seen in: South Park
The only thing more terrifying than a regular sized Barbara Streisand is a giant, mechanical Barbara Streisand. Featured in an early episode of South Park saw the star procured the Triangle of Zinthar, which completes the Diamond of Pantheos, allowing her to change into this monstrosity. Alright, so this isn’t exactly the most scientifically sound example of a robot on this list. Still though, Mecha-Streisand boasts incredible strength, nose lasers and a Japanese theme tune. Neither a giant robotic Leonard Maltin nor a huge Sidney Poitier turtle can match her toe-to-toe.
Mecha-Streisand made another appearance in the 200th episode with a whole new arsenal of mayhem. Her right arm is now a chainsaw and she’s armed with missile launchers. Not to mention nipple steam when she roars. Eek. --Laura O'Brien
Created by: Dr. Michael J. Freeman
Among the countless game systems and movie merchandise that fills toy shop’s shelves these days, this was one of the few products to emerge in the last forty years that showed real inguinuity. 2-XL’s simple design manipulated four track audio cassettes to give its user an interactive experience using a four button control panel. So well was the system’s execution that on the first couple of plays, it had our juvenile selves really believing we were talking to an actualy robot.
There were actually two versions of 2-Xl, with the original being introduced in 1978. It looked more like a brick than a robot and used more limited 8-track tapes, but the idea was the same. In 1992 the robot was given a facelift, and the advent of more modern cassettes allowed a greater amount of interactivity.The creator Michael J. Freeman provided 2-Xl’s voice himself, and is probably responsible for the trademark phrase “Thank you for turning me on,” that kick started each tape. I assume this his own little gag for our grown-up selves to chuckle at years later. --Dean Van Nguyen
46. ‘The Robots’
Recorded by: Kraftwork
When Kraftwerk released ‘The Robots’ as a single in 1978, the electronic music pioneers seemed to be goading people with a refrain of “We are the robots.” Adding fuel to what any paranoid crackpot with too much time on his hands had long suspected: That music this artificial, this cold and clinical, this electronic, this good, couldn’t really be created by anything but a machine. So confident in their deception were Kraftwerk that this ultra sophisticated android band didn’t even attempt to appear human. Going so far as to assume the German nationality, that most efficient and emotionless of people, and appearing in the video for ‘The Robots’ with blank stares and jerky rhythmic movements. After being out of the spotlight for the best part of two decades they reappeared a few years ago appearing older, as if they had aged. The only real explanation is that they had recently installed Microsoft’s latest aging software, I suppose. --Stephen Rogers
Created by: Honda
Short for Advanced Step Innovative Mobility, ASIMO was created by Honda at their research and development centre in Japan in the hope that in the future he can help find cures for diseases and be utilised in war. However, standing at only 130 centimetres and weighing 54 kilograms, he would make a very child-like war machine, looking more like a tiny astronaut. ASIMO can however run at speeds of up to 6 kmph and costs around $1 million to produce. A snip considering there are only around 100 of them in existence. The newer models even have lots of lovely added features which help the machine interact better with us humans, including advanced postures and gestures, and facial recognition. --Carol Killeen
44.The Robot from Rocky IV
As seen in: Rocky IV
In the final scene of Rocky IV, Stallone delivers a speech that supposedly ended the Cold War. This, however, is not the most memorable contribution the film gave the world. At the beginning of the movie, Rocky gifts his brother-in-law Paulie with the infamous robot, in return for the ungrateful “I told you I wanted a sports car!” reply. The robot goes on to prove its worth is 10 times that of a Miata. Having some seriously advanced artificial intelligence for 1985, it can respond to the requests of its human masters. However, the relationship between Paulie and the robot takes a turn for the very weird at a dinner party, when we discover the robots has seemingly transferred from male to female. “She loves me,” Paulie says affectionately. Everyone present seems happy to ignore this eccentric behaviour because, after all, who are they to deny human-on-robot love? Who knew the Rocky franchise was so forward thinking? --Niamh King
As seen in: Robocop
Robocop the movie centres on a police officer that is brutally murdered and then subsequently re-created as a super human cyborg by the mega corporation Omni Consumable Products, who in turn he is forced to take down. For a cheap sci-fi flick, the sheer size of the following that this robot has gathered over the years is mind-boggling. Robocop has spawned two sequels, a TV series, two animated versions and countless merchandise. There was also the computer games and, for the ultimate nerds, a comic book. If you are one of the many fans who fell into the Robocop hysteria, you will be thankful that the remake slated for 2013 has been cancelled. --Carol Killeen
As seen in: Austin Powers Series
The Fembots are fiendishly attractive android barbie dolls whose primary function is to seduce and destroy one Austin Powers. They are blonde, attractive and ready to party, the perfect weapon to allure the sexed-up superspy.
The Fembots main weapon is the widely publicized twin cannons they can summon from their chest region to either incapacitate or kill any unwitting men who wander into their path. When encountered by a group, our hero Powers is nearly overwhelmed, but he turns the tables and blows their processors and their minds with an erotic striptease. The fembots all look similar and have the same vacant, hostile look in their lifeless blue eyes. Later celebrity fembots include Elizabeth Hurley and Britney Spears who appeared in the sequels, but neither were as menacing or as oddly appealing as those in the original film. --Jesse Melia
As seen in: Mortal Kombat
If nothing else, Cyrax warrants inclusion on this list for being christened with the most robot sounding name of all robots. While he lacks the charisma and character of Mortal Kombat stalwarts Scorpion, Sub Zero and Jax, he has one thing they will never have: the ability to shoot missiles out of his wrists. He can also shoot fire from the very same cannons. Improbable I know, but when partaking in an inter dimensional fighting tournament one must come prepared.
Cyrax’s back story is unremarkable. The bad guys sent him to kill the good guys, the good guys reprogrammed him; no one really cares. What we want to know is who is the real Cyrax? What makes him tick? This is something that personally I’d love to go into but sadly his low placing on this list prohibits me from truly covering the vast emotional framework of our flawed hero Cyrax. One can only hope that some day an intrepid journalist, much braver than I, will give Cyrax the 5000 word cover story he truly deserves. --Jesse Melia