Showing posts with label Listomania. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Listomania. Show all posts

Friday, March 11, 2011

One More Robot's Top 50 Robots 10-1

10. AWESOM-O
As seen in: South Park

The AWESOM-O 4000 is the robotic alter-ego of one Eric Cartman. A creation that only Cartman could surely have envisaged. Hardly a fully functioning robot, AWESOM-O is no more than young Eric in a cardboard suit, speaking in a robotic voice. It’s more than enough to fool South Park simpleton, Butters Scotch, and Cartman hopes to utilise his devious costume to glean embarrassing information about Butters by becoming his dream companion: a robot friend.

In gaining his victim’s trust however, AWESOM-O discovers that Butters has some blackmailing material of his own to use against Eric, in the form of an incriminating videotape, forcing Cartman to maintain the charade in order to obtain the tape. During his time spent with Butters, Awesom-o helps him insert anal suppositories, inspires a ragtime ode entitled ‘My Robot Friend’ and accompanies him a trip to Los Angeles to visit his aunt. It’s on this trip that the robot attracts the attention of a Hollywood studio, faces the perils of the casting couch and is captured by the US Military for research purposes.

In short AWESOM-O is the definition of a joke going too far, backfiring, but being in too deep to do anything about stopping it. He has no cool powers or fancy technological wang-dangs, but hey, he had us in hysterics. Reason enough for his inclusion. ‘Lame.’ --Seán Earley

09. Optimus Prime
As seen in: Transformers

I’m sorry, what was that? You were the one little boy growing up in the eighties who didn’t think transforming robots were frickin’ deadly? Well, that must mean you are a figment of my imagination, because you don’t exist. Quite simply Transformers took everything any little boy could want in a Saturday morning cartoon/toy and rolled it all up into one. Big and badass vehicles of all descriptions? Check. Robots. Check. Aliens. Check. Intergalactic laser battles over the resource Energon that was actually a metaphor for oil based conflicts in the Middle East… Ok so maybe not the metaphor bit, but definitely the rest.

Optimus Prime was the fearless leader of the Autobots (the goodies), tirelessly battling the Decepticons (the baddies) week after week, with virtue, and honour, and a baritone voice I prayed would be mine when puberty hit. And his name! Think about that name! OPTIMUS PRIME. Optimus – the best. Prime - the first. C’mon people, what more does a name need to say about you? As awful as those movies were I still got goose bumps seeing him transform on the big screen for the first time. Then in the second flick he took on four Decepticons single handed and was bested in one devastatingly emotional scene. No, I didn’t have something in my eye. That was a tear. A manly tear. Roll out! --Stephen Rogers

08. Robot B-9
As seen in: Lost in Space

All too frequently in classic science fiction, robots are portrayed as baddies: perfect soldiers, focused killers, emotionless tyrants. Countering this negativity, the accordion-armed robot from the classic series Lost in Space is entirely good. His concern lies almost solely in preventing his human companions from coming to harm. In fact, he is so benign that his creators beat Star Trek by almost 50 years and built it into his designation: “Robot B-9.”

Likable and benevolent, B-9 is one of the all-time most famous robots in television history. Repeating one of the most memorable catchphrases in television history every week, the robot protected the space family Robinson as they travelled the galaxy, warning of hidden danger on every planet. In fact, he often seemed to do little else. It was his personality rather than his abilities which made the character memorable. Although technically advanced and fantastically complex, the robot was also capable of expressing human emotions. He was frequently shown laughing at the crew, especially Dr. Smith who referred to him as a “bubble-headed booby,” and a “ludicrous lump” among other things. For many people, it was Smith’s relationship with the Robot which defined the show and made it a classic. --David Bolger
07. HAL
As seen in: 2001: A Space Odyssey

HAL (Heuristically programmed Algorithmic Computer) is the sentient computer onboard the Discovery One Spaceship from Stanley Kubrick’s classic movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. HAL speaks with a conversational, polite tone and seems to take pride in his work – betraying the fact that the computer may, in fact, be more than just a computer, having developed genuine emotions and a form of artificial intelligence.

HAL has become synonymous with our fears about the rise of A.I. He insists that a fault in the spaceship is due to human error, before attempting to murder it’s crew by terminating the life support systems and attacking the crewmember that tries to identify the problem. HAL does this in the name of self-preservation, to avoid being deactivated.

This level of artificial Intelligence is a quality that, thankfully, does not exist in our modern technology. While many of us state how reliant we are on our iPhones, Blackberrys or similar, if they started demonstrating emotions, manipulating us and preserving themselves from being replaced or shut down, we would run, screaming, for the hills. Although many people would argue this is already happening in a very subtle and insidious manner, with our utter dependence on technology that did not exist 10 years ago, until our iPhones start talking to us in creepily, soothing tones like HAL, we can presume we are safe. But maybe that’s what they want us to believe… --Brogen Hayes

06. The Terminator
As seen in: The Terminator

“Listen, and understand. That Terminator is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.” Those were the cautionary words of Kyle Reese, which served as a perfect introduction and summation of one of sci-fi’s greatest and scariest villains. And if there’s one thing watching the Terminator films has taught me it’s that Kyle Reese knows what he’s talking about and you’d be damn smart to listen to him.

The Cyberdyne Systems Model 101, if you want to get technical (and I do), was terrifying in the first Terminator film because of all the reasons Reese gave and then some. What I think makes the T-101 a truly great character however is that after becoming one of sci-fi’s most iconic villains in 1984, Arnold Schwarzenegger returned to the role in the 1991 sequel and created one of the genre’s best and most enduring heroes by being a slightly softened version of same thing. Having a character switch sides morally or literally is a risky prospect in storytelling at the best of times, but the Terminator managed to be the ultimate murderous bad guy initially and in the next instance be the valiant protector, father figure, and martyr only to be loved even more. This is why The Terminator is a pure and true icon of cinema. --Stephen Rogers

05. Johnny 5
As seen in: Short Circuit

Ah, the eighties; when runners were boots, jumpers were huge and the most advanced piece of technology we could imagine looked rather like Meccano mounted on a remote control car. In a way, it’s that retro harking back to a time before Steve Jobs and Apple managed to convince us that every iRobot worth its malware has to be shiny and white that keeps all of us in love with Johnny 5.

The tale of Number 5, as he is in the first Short Circuit movie, has more in common with E.T. than The Terminator. Future Governor Arnie may have begun stomping about the 20th Century a couple of years before but we still hadn’t been hard-wired to distrust intelligent robots on sight just yet. When Ally Sheedy finds him hiding out in her van it’s all delightful misunderstandings and adventure; even his Cylon voiced evil brothers wind up as Larry, Curly and Moe, hardly the sight to inspire dread of the robotic menace.

The world (or the USA at least) had a bigger menace in those days anyway: the Ruskies. In the midst of cold war paranoia movies like Red Dawn and Invasion USA, Johnny 5’s cheery fascination with the world told us all to stop and smell the roses, even as his high-tech construction subtly reminded everybody of the superiority of western technology. In the end though, all that really sticks with us is the image of Johnny 5 chasing happily after a butterfly and the robot’s earnest message to an anxious and materially obsessed decade: Life is not a malfunction. --Declan Aylward
04. Marvin the Paranoid Android
As seen in: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

What makes movie and TV robots so dangerous is that they are full of data and information about life, the universe and everything in it, yet their artificial intelligence is accompanied by a stone cold lack of emotion. They know everything but care about nothing. No wonder they try to destroy the planet even 10 minutes.

Marvin (from the book The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, as well as it’s TV and film adaptations) does not lack emotion; in fact he’s is infested with it. Marvin is the robot embodiment of the human condition. He gets how people think and, more importantly, how they feel, he just doesn’t care very much. He, as the most depressed robot in history, has the basic motto that life, and his position in it, suck. After all, anyone with a brain the size of a planet who is asked to do nothing but menial tasks, unworthy of his great acumen, would get kind of bored.

Marvin is the failed prototype of Sirius Cybernetics GPP (Genuine People Personalities) programme and due to unresolved flaws in his programming he is stuck with the intelligence to do great things but the will and drive to do very little. He is a good guy to have around when you are in a bad mood because no matter how bad you feel you know he is going to be more down than you are. I think that is why we love him. He has a hard time of it and no other robot knows, or could know, what it is like to be that under appreciated. So we’re appreciating him. He needs the love. --Rachael Murphy

03. Bishop
As seen in: Aliens

Bishop will no doubt remain a polarising figure, both within the narrative of the Alien saga, and in how viewers approach the character after viewing both Aliens and Alien 3. Played by Lance Henriksen who, much to his misfortune, looks like a slimy, second-car salesman, Bishop is an android ‘The Company’ send along with the crew of high-tech colonial marines as they return to LV-425, the site of Ripley’s first encounter with the infamous Alien creatures. Indeed, his appearance of deviousness, and the unease which Ripley engages him, points to the multi-faceted nature of his place within the series. Claiming to adhere steadfastly to the first rule Isaac Asimov sets out for Robots, namely, never to injure or harm humans, Bishop is a robot the audience is never entirely sure of, and indeed, countless fans have speculated on how entirely benign his actions in Aliens truly were compared to his ‘changed’ nature in Alien 3. The implication, as Ripley strains to withhold saying, is that Bishop was indeed complicit in the laying of the Alien eggs.

The positing of Bishop as an android, (although he himself states: “I prefer the term ‘Artificial Person’ myself”) adds to the unease as he displays human emotions and engagements, but with a precision the viewer knows only a robot could possess. As robots go, he’s is a tricky customer, but on account of saving Ripley’s life, I think we’ll have to give him the benefit of the doubt. --Jason Robinson

02. Bender
As seen in: Futureama

Hard drinking, cigar-chomping and more foulmouthed than a drunken Mel Gibson, Bender is perhaps the best loved character in Futurama. He is certainly the show’s greatest breakout character, having appeared not only in The Simpsons, but also having a background cameo in Family Guy.

Built in Mexico by his industrial robot mother, Bender’s full name is Bender Bending Rodriquez, and he is alternatively 40% titanium, lead, zinc, dolomite, chromium and osmium. Bender requires near constant intake of alcohol to recharge his power source but probably drinks more than is necessary. Bender wants to be loved and struggles with his feelings for humanity, alternating between expressing fondness for his friends to declaring his intention to kill all humans. Perhaps the best example of Bender’s nihilistic nature comes when a bomb is planted inside him, set to detonate if he says a certain word. His reaction is to start listing words at random in the hope of setting it off. Despite being created as a mere bending unit, Bender is able to turn his hand to anything; from folk music to cooking to being a God, with the last being the only job suitable to his huge ego.

One interesting aspect of Bender is his age. Although he is built only two years before the show’s pilot, in season three he travels back in time to 1947. His head is left behind in the desert as the ship departs, where it waits the intervening 1,055 years for rescue. Subsequently, in 'Bender’s Big Score', he travels back 955 years to kill Fry. There, he waits the same amount of time before arriving in the “present” at the climax of the episode. As of this latest season, Bender’s head is over 2,000 years old, and his body (and ass) almost half that. --David Bolger

01. R2-D2
As seen in: Star Wars

At a glance, R2-D2 is an unremarkable robot. Gliding around on little wheels, making gentle beeps and squeaks that somehow people can understand, he seems like an unlikely candidate to top this poll. Yet, when you think about it, no other machine comes close. Over the years hundreds of different robots have appeared in popular culture. They’ve been servants, overlords, invaders; the list goes on and on. Yet R2-D2 stands alone at the top of the pile. A robot who is, quite simply, a friend. A mildly snarky, but undeniably lovable, friend.

While most robots have multiple functions R2-D2, for the most part, wasn’t capable of much more than just wandering around, getting into peril and hacking the occasional mainframe. The prequel trilogy tried to imbue him with incredibly random extra abilities such a highly convenient mini saw which I found diluted his charm somewhat. After all, this is a robot that has always been greater than the sum of its parts. He’ll journey with you to distant planets, he can pass important messages, serve drinks if needs be; he is there for you.

Regardless of the more recent changes, since the original Star Wars R2 has become deeply rooted in every generation’s subconscious since. Any one of his trademark sounds, like his nervous squeak, or his playful whistle will instantly stir the inner child within most of us. Really, when you think about it, he is quite the pop culture heavyweight. Star Wars has spread its influence over movies, music, books, video games... there really is no part of the world of entertainment that it hasn’t touched, and if I had to choose a character from this gargantuan media empire to represent it, it would be R2-D2, standing in some desolate desert wasteland, staring at you indifferently. Darth Vader may have been tall, dark and menacing, Luke Skywalker may have been the main character, Han Solo may have been Harrison Ford, but R2-D2 is the face of Star Wars and in a way, that makes him the face of popular film, which is funny because he’s just a robot that can’t really do much apart from prodding you with his unnecessary electric baton thing that he has inside himself somewhere. --Jesse Melia

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

One More Robot's Top 50 Robots 20-11

20. T-1000
As seen in: Terminator 2: Judgement Day

Among the wide variety of robots, cyborgs and machines that appear on this list, the T-1000 remains a true original. So perfectly formed was James Cameron’s creation in Terminator 2: Judgement Day, that it remains completely believable and no less jaw-dropping some twenty years later. In fact, no other filmmaker has dared attempt copy the concept, since Cameron and co’s execution proved so definitive.

Intended to be a sleeker, sports car-like design to Arnie’s panzer tank, the T-1000 is probably best remembered not for his ability to take on the appearance of his victims, turn his limbs into sharp, lethal weapons or apparent indestructibility, but for his sharp, quick sprinting motion. Both terrifying to those he pursues, as well as effective in catching some slower vehicles, it’s one of the series most iconic images. --Dean Van Nguyen

19. Maria
As seen in: Metropolis

A cold emotionless face combined with the sexy curves of the female body, all encased in steel, Maria is one of cinema’s most iconic images. She was played by Brigitte Helm, who technically took on the dual roles of the robot (or Maschinenmensch) and the human on whom it was modelled, in Fritz Lang’s sci-fi masterpiece Metropolis.

Constructed for the personal gain of scientiest Rotwang, who is locked in a bitter love triangle with Metropolis elite Freder over Maria’s affections, the robot is fashioned in her image with the ultimate goal of destroying Metropolis and murdering Freder. However, after being instilled with sentience, the Maschinenmensch soon turns on its creator ala Frankenstein’s Monster and runs amuck. --Seán Earley

18. Sonny
As seen in: I, Robot

I, Robot protagonist Del Spooner (Will Smith) believes that Sonny killed his creator, thus breaking one of writer Isaac Asimov’s three laws of robotics; rules the writer apparently formed to provide interesting plot lines when broken. Sonny himself is an NS-5 unit, seemingly just one in a long production line of similar robots. However, he has very distinctive features, including reenforced body armor, a secondary brain that is not governed by the laws and the ability to dream. But it’s his likeable personality that makes Sonny a real charmer. You could even buy a replica of his head for your home that lights up when approached by an intruder. Truly, the people’s robot. --Carol Killeen

17. Number Six
As seen in: Battlestar Galactica

When TV series Battlestar Gallactica was re-imagined several key changes were made, most notable of which was the enemy. No longer were the nefarious Cylons limited to a mechanical, cyborg appearance. They were able to mimic actual humans in every physical detail. The creative forces behind the show clearly knew what their audience wanted as the humanoid Cylon that got the most screen time was the sleek, platinum blonde temptress known as Number Six. Any excuse to put her in scenes involving seduction, manipulation and, yes, sexual intercourse, was conceived by the show’s writing team. Regardless of her looks though, Six is a genuinely great character whose moral complexity and memorable image was integral to the success of this brilliant sci-fi series. But yes, she was super hot and was clearly created to mentally ensnare alpha nerds like myself. It worked. --Jesse Melia

16. Gerty
As seen in: Moon

Tasked with assisting Sam Bell on the Sarang Lunar Base as he extracts helium-3 from the soil for much-needed clean energy back on Earth, GERTY seems as insidious and potentially dangerous as HAL was in 2001: A Space Odyssey. But while he stirs up the audiences memories of the murderous HAL, he then promptly dispels our fears. Kevin Spacey’s vocal performance is clearly related to, if not inspired by, the soothing and calming tones of Kubrick’s design. But where HAL failed, GERTY triumphs. Here is a robot gifted with artificial intelligence that does not want to over throw the human race, instead empathising with Sam’s struggle and his fear and confusion and does all he can to help him. While any fictional artificial intelligence is going to be burdened with comparisons to HAL 9000, GERTY was clearly created in an attempt to embrace this, rather than fight to be free of it. And this is why the character works so well. --Brogen Hayes

15. Kryten
As seen in: Red Dwarf

Kitchy robots have always been a part of cult sci-fi, and it doesn’t come more cult than Red Dwarf. Kryten, the robot butler rescued from a macabre pantomime of his own creation, is part C-3PO, part Hal from Malcolm in the Middle. Played by Robert Llewellyn, in the years before Scrap Heap Challenge claimed his soul, he brought his own brand of crazy to the table, with physical comedy and exaggerated doubletakes worthy of Fawlty Towers. Kryten has an earnest desire to serve humanity, even the miserable specimen that is Lister, the last human. His wilful glee in debasing himself to that end is hilarious, even as it can’t help but make us think about the concept of creating what amount to worshipful slaves from a rather uncomfortable angle. --Declan Aylward

14. WALL-E
As seen in: WALL-E

By most yardsticks, WALL-E is an unlikely concept for an animated feature. Based around a lonely, old, disheveled robot on an isolated and abandoned Earth, if any studio other than Pixar received this idea, it would have died a quick and lonely death. Yet here the studio created a truly loveable, however unlikely, hero in the form of WALL-E (standing for “Waste Allocation Load Lifter- Earth Class”). A colourful, small yellow robot, with a binocular-type eyes that manage to convey both the happiness (during his time with his love, Eve) and worry (such as when he is nearly destroyed in a sandstorm) that comes his way.

WALL-E is both resilient and sweet, with a love of old films and a collector of knick-knacks on the abandoned planet he inhabits. That the robot doesn’t even speak actual words is testament to the depth and power his emotions and actions hold throughout the feature and the rare instance where an audience is rooting for a machine to find true love with his beloved other. --Jason Robinson

13. Gort
As seen in: The Day the Earth Stood Still

One of the best known robots in movie history, Gort was completely indestructible and capable of destroying all life on Earth. Despite this, his mission in The Day the Earth Stood Still was to bring about world peace. This was carried out via the threat of global Armageddon.

Gort spent most of the film motionless, waiting outside his spaceship for his companion Klaatu. He was examined by the military but gave no indication that this upset him. This stillness is part of what makes Gort such a memorable robot; the lack of movement creates amazing suspense. That feeling of untapped raw power paid off at the climax of the film with perhaps science fictions best known line: “Klaatu. Borada. Nikto,” meaning roughly: don’t kill everybody in the world. --David Bolger

12. Rosie
As seen in: The Jetsons

Rosie was always more than just a maid to the Jetson family. She was there to give advice when it was needed, and to roll her eyes when Judy Jetson professed that she was in love yet again. She generally had little to do with the storyline, (except in the episode she snags herself a robot boyfriend) but rather acted as the comic relief when things got in anyway serious. There was more to Rosie though than just the humour in her character, or the fact that she is oddly dressed in a little French maid’s outfit. She was like supporting wall that prevented our favourite space-age family from falling apart.

Rosie was ordered by the Jetsons from U-RENT A MAID when they needed a little help. They never looked back. Why would they? Who wouldn’t love to have a machine in your home that cleaned up after you, getting out the hover when the dog has rolled mud on the carpet and making sure you jeans are clean when you need them? As soon as you stop living at home you need something like that around. --Rachael Murphy

11. Robby the Robot
As seen in: Forbidden Planet

An icon of science-fiction, Robbie was created for 1956 movie Forbidden Planet. The film was famously based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and Robbie himself was inspired by the powerful wood sprite Ariel. He was designed by the same man who gave us Lost in Space’s Robot B-9, but his greatness lies not just in his lineage, but in what he did afterwards. Unlike most robots in film and television, Robbie went on to have an amazing career spanning thirty years and appeared in a string of successful movies (Gremlins, Earth Girls Are Easy, Star Wars: Episode I) and television shows (Lost in Space, The Twilight Zone, The Love Boat). If you thought “robot” in the sixties, odds are you’re thinking of Robby. --David Bolger

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

One More Robot's Top 50 Robots 30-21

30. C-3PO
As seen in: Star Wars

One of the most underrated supporting characters of the Star Wars series, C-3PO and his counterpart R2-D2 are credited as being the world’s first ‘bromance’, bridging language barriers, robot race and much more besides. One of the few characters to be portrayed by the same actor throughout the entire six Star Wars films; C-3PO has become a cult figure amongst fans the world over. The robot has inspired some the most varied and downright bizarre collectibles such as earrings, art and, my personal favourite, altered antique plates! The most recent is the newly released C-3PO iPad Case, the iPad accessory for geeks across the globe. --Niamh King

29. KITT
As seen in: Knight Rider

An abbreviation of ‘Knight Industries Two Thousand’, KITT was the talking car from eighties megahit TV show Knight Rider. The Knight in question was Michael Knight, played by The Hoff himself. Together with KITT, the duo was a formidable crime stopping force, defeating their enemies with a mixture of devastating explosives, unbelievable technology and artificial intelligence.

Undeniably camp, KITT would often come out with some awful lines that suggested that maybe there was more than just a platonic love between one man and his artificial intelligent car going on, including this gem: “It appears to be a large... My goodness, large isn’t the word, it’s enormous!” --Seán Earley
28. Kevin
As seen in: Saved by the Bell

Not all successful TV series hit the ground running, and the first couples of seasons can sometimes be littered with failed experiments, and characters soon to get the chop. In Saved by the Bell’s case, there was Max, the annoying waiter from the restaurant of the same name who insisted on using magic tricks as a visual aid to underline the advice he was giving the fresh-faced Zach, AC and the gang. He was wisely axed soon after. Then there was Kevin, Screech’s robot friend who was inexplicably removed from the show after two seasons. His appearances included a gig as an assistant to Screech’s magician and as a hall monitor, filling in for his much-loved master. But more than just a mechanical slave, Kevin offered the anxious teen much needed guidance with a refreshing sense of humour. Removing his robotic buddy when they did, no wonder Screech went off the rails. --Dean Van Nguyen

27. ‘Robot Rock’
Recorded by: Daft Punk

Daft Punk’s sound has always had a rather cybernetic quality. From the repetitive thud of the bass in ‘Da Funk’ to the space-aged synth laser blasts of ‘Around The World’, they have always seemed like a band that belonged at some futuristic rave out in the far reaches of the cosmos. By their second album they had evolved into robots physically and sonically with an arsenal of new, auto tune laden pop songs. The definitive example of their inorganic, processed sound is the aptly titled ‘Robot Rock’, a song which is played by robots and, indeed, rocks. In fact, the music video features a robot playing guitar. It does exactly what it says on the space aged tin. --Jesse Melia

26. ED-209
As seen in: Robocop

ED-209 had one of the most memorable introductions in sci-fi cinema when during a straight forward demonstration, he hideously malfunctions and guns down an innocent man. It kinda set the bar for things to come. The tank-like robot became something of a comic foil in the Robocop film trilogy, TV series, comic book and other spin offs because of his tendancy to break and general flaws in his design. (His inability to negotiate a flight of stairs leads to his defeat in the first ecounter with Robocop).

We think 209 got a bad hand. His flaws in the movie were mostly down to the rush to get him operational and these defects were apparently not worked out, with the sequel’s filmmakers determined to keep him slow, stupid and easily defeatable. A shame, since Robocop director Paul Verhoeven intended him to terrify, comparing the design to that of a Vietnam war helicopter. --Dean Van Nguyen

25. Linguo
As seen in: The Simpsons

Linguo was a shooting star amongst Simpsons characters, come and gone in a single episode but with his pedantic grammatical corrections forever burned into our brains. His appealed most obviously to the type of people who correct others’ use of ‘seen’ instead of ‘saw’, or ‘who’ instead of ‘whom’. Probably the most ingenious of all Lisa’s various science projects, Linguo’s brief life saw him get drunk, fight mobsters and die in the arms of Homer. It was a short but fulfilling existence. Let us never forget his dying words, as a single-thumbed Homer cradles him and says, “Linguo, dead?”, “Linguo is dead” came the final earthly croak. Long live Linguo. --Ian Maleney

24. The Mars Rover
Created by: NASA

NASA’s Mars Rover is actually two robots, Spirit and Opportunity. Both are identical but on different parts of Mars, as their creators hope to utitlise the machines we humans hope to find out vital information about its make-up and resources of the red planet. Operations began in 2004 and so far, they have detected ice and carbonate deposit (next stop, Costa del Mars) and if you like to keep up to date on what these robots are getting up to, they’re even on Twitter (http://twitter.com/MarsRovers).

These robots will be on Mars for the long haul so expect to hear more of their adventures over the coming years, although at present poor Spirit is caught in a sand trap and NASA hasn’t heard from it since March last year. We wish them both the best of luck. --Jason Robinson

23. The Pink Robots
Created by: The Flaming Lips

I imagine their pink colouring is a ruse to lull us into a false sense of security. I mean who sees pink and thinks danger? But you’re not going to get anywhere in your career as a giant world beating anime-style ‘megabot’ if you don’t have at least a few tricks up your sleeves. Do giant pink robots have sleeves? Anyway, we can only theorise why the titular Pink Robots of the Flaming Lips excellent 2002 song were attacking Earth, or Japan, or wherever. Whatever their reasons Wayne Coyne seemed confident that a young girl named Yoshimi could defeat them, amply prepared as she was with a vigorous karate and vitamin taking regime. What did she know that we didn’t? We don’t really know how she got on either, the only evidence being the indecipherable screaming heard in the songs second part. Maybe she didn’t defeat those evil machines. --Stephen Rogers

22. Metal Gear Rex
As seen in: Metal Gear Series

One of the Sony Playstation’s most memorable and influential franchises is undoubtedly the Metal Gear series. What started as a fairly straightforward running and gunning platform game on the SNES has evolved into a cinematic, blockbuster gaming franchise that has lasted over 20 years. The one constant in this genre-bending saga is that at the end of our hero Solid Snake’s journey of stealth and intrigue, he must face off against the latest iteration of the menacing bipedal walking tank known as Metal Gear Rex. Equipped with nuclear warheads along with an array of other destructive weaponry, the different Metal Gear’s have almost always posed much the same threat. They would always fall into the hands of fiendish terrorist types who wish to use its nuclear payload to commit fiendish terrorist acts such as enslaving the government or something equally reprehensible. Luckily Snake would always find the machine’s weak spot and destroy the abomination so we can all sleep soundly tonight. Thanks Snake. --Jesse Melia

21. ‘Intergalactic’ Robot
As seen in: The Beastie Boys’ Video

The Beastie Boys’ finest MTV moment saw the trio manning a robot that battles a giant octopus-headed creature armed with a pitchfork. The video is a nod to the old Kaju movies, right down to the scenes of the fleeing Japanese, just like a classic Godzilla film. The battle itself though somewhat resembles an episode of The Power Rangers and we’re treated to what can only be described as a Ranger-like dance moves by the boys down below, while the robot happily dances on the streets, that have been abandoned by the terrified natives. When the fight ensues, our blocky hero overcomes early octopus dominance by flinging his enemy into a nearby power line. This won Best Hip Hop Video at the MTV Video Music Awards in 1998. --Carol Killeen

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

One More Robot's Top 50 Robots 40-31

40. Teddy
As seen in: A.I: Artificial Intelligence

Of all the robots A.I: Artificial Intelligence has to offer, Teddy is without a doubt the most impressive and intimidating. From the first introduction to Teddy it is made crystal clear that, despite his cuddly and slightly evil appearance, he is not a toy. He takes in the role of David’s friend and guardian, often handing out useful advice such as “[Don’t eat spinach] You will break.” In complete contrast to the humans in David’s life, Teddy displays a steadfastness and determination to ensure his well being. (There’s a moral lesson there, somewhere, if you care to pursue it.) His dedication to the mission at hand, find the Blue Fairy who will transform David into a real boy, is truly remarkable considering he has no ties to the child other than he loves him with all his little robot heart. --Niamh King

39. Data
As seen in: Star Trek: The Next Generation

When Star Trek: The Next Generation first aired, fans of the original series were quick to notice similarities between the main cast and their 1960’s counterparts. Foremost among these was Data, Starfleet’s first android officer who seemed little more than a poor man’s Mr Spock. But Data soon evolved into something more than an emotionless, naive foil to the show’s human characters. We watched him learn to become something more than a machine as the show-runners had him explore the human condition, the place of sentient life in the universe and even what defines a life form.

Data explored his desire for a family by creating a “child,” found his own long lost family (and evil twin) in Lore, and even crossed the machine-human sexual divide, declaring himself “fully functional” to Tasha Yar. An early defining moment came in the second season when Dr. Polaski pronounced his name as “Dahtah,” rather than “Daytah.” When quizzed on why he corrected her, Data replied: “One is my name. The other is not.” --David Bolger

38. Calculon
As seen in: Futureama

More than just a robot, more than just a soapstar, Calculon is Futureama creator Matt Groening’s commentary on the vapid egotism of Hollywood and the television industry. The sheer overbearing selfishness that bullies its way into a kind of irresistible charisma holds a mirror up to stars like Russell Crowe, Bill Shatner of course, and even Adam West in his heyday. But it’s more than just sneering at the rich and famous on Groening’s part; Calculon is, after all, a robot, created to act the way we made him. Calculon himself is completely oblivious to all of this, he just basks in the attention and doles out meaningless thanks to the little people: “the Academy, my agent and, of course, my operating system”. --Declan Aylward

37. The Buffy Bot
As seen in: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Appearing in season five and six of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Buffybot is an identical robot replica of the real Buffy Summers. Programmed to be in love with the vampire Spike, she will do anything to please him.

A symptom of Spike’s obsession with the real Buffy, the Buffybot is an experiment that went wrong. Her speech and mannerisms were not perfected by the robot’s creators, so although she is chipper and permanently happy around Spike, she lacks tact and can be incredibly blunt in conversation. Happily, the Buffybot has her uses – other than as a talkative sex toy for Spike – and she is often used to distract the enemy or convince them that Buffy is in two places at once. --Brogen Hayes

36. Atomic Robo
As seen in: Atomic Robo

Atomic Robo is an old school robot in every sense of the word. From his bucket head design to World War Two antics, Brian Clevinger’s comic creations are action packed adventures right out of the pages of Commando…if Commando had an almost painfully postmodern awareness of itself.

Atomic Robo was built by Nikola Tesla, that bastion of unlikely inventions, and works with the Action Scientists of Tesladyne Industries to keep the world safe from weird war machines and supernatural threats, including walking Nazi tanks called Laufpanzers and one particularly annoying dinosaur with a PhD. There are elements of The Venture Brothers in Robo’s banter with the bad guys and the same trendy, tongue-in-cheek teasing of the stories our parents grew up with that probably makes the creator of The Hardy Boys want to rise from his grave and pelt the nearest Starbucks with buttered scones. --Declan Aylward

35. Zoe-R
As seen in: Caprica

Raised on the planet Caprica, Zoe Graystone was born into a wealthy family who believed her to be a normal teenager, but in reality she was a secret monotheist (the standard belief system in Caprica is polytheism) as well as a computer genius. When Zoe is killed in a suicide bombing carried out by religious extremists, her father downloads a digital recreation of into a robot and thus, Zoe-R – a robot with Zoe Graystone’s consciousness intact within it – is born.

Zoe-R believes that she is simply trying to escape to religious freedom on Gemenon –a planet that shares her religious beliefs– but as fans of Battlestar Galactica will know, Zoe-R was the first cylon consciousness and the precursor to the race of robots that started a Twelve Year War to be free of their human masters. And you thought your teenage years were hard! --Brogen Hayes

34. Cyberman
As seen in: Dr. Who

Of all the many weird and wonderful Dr. Who villains there are two that stand out; the Daleks and the Cybermen. But let’s face it, the Daleks, as scary as they are at times, look a bit like an army of rubbish bins. The Cybermen, on the other hand, are as hard as they come. They used to be human but have replaced so many parts of their anatomy over the years with mechanical replacements that now they are almost entirely machine, becoming in the process so cold and calculating that they have lost all respect for life, apart from their own. With so many Cyberman gracing Dr. Who, I can’t pick a favourite, they are all pretty bad ass. It still sends a shiver down my spine when I look at the ‘delete’ button on my keyboard. --Rachael Murphy

33. Sgt. Bash
As seen in: Robot Wars

One the ‘Housebots’ in the UK version of Robot Wars, Sgt. Bash sported a mean-looking camoflage paint job that made him an intimidating prospect on the robot battlefield. But despite looking the part, Bash was sadly inept when it came to a scrap. His main weapon was a flame thrower, which looked mightely impressive, but it wasn’t much unless his opponent was made out of polyester. As a secondary method of attack, the sergeant could deploy a circular saw. Designed to cut his victims deep, it was so slow at carving through steel that only robots who had stopped moving were in any real danger of it breaching their protective shell.

He may have been all mouth and no trousers, but what made Bash 10 times more likeable than his super-dangerous allies like Sir Killalot was his bad temper and feelings of self-righteousness. He’d often wander out of his designated zone, looking to pick on contestants and their stupid looking robots, probably because they offended him with their tacky designs. --Dean Van Nguyen

32. R Daneel Olivaw
As seen in: The work of Isaac Asimov

R Daneel Olivaw first appeared in writer Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy, and eventually became his most commonly featured character. Built in the year 5020, he was the first “humaniform” robot and could only be distinguished from a human being when forced to follow Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, and even then could be mistaken as simply an overtly moral person. Based on his own philosophy, he sidestepped the First Law (which stated “A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm”) by creating the pre-emptive Zeroth Law; “A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.” He went on to become a Machiavellian minimalist, deciding which course would be safest for the human race, and calculating the least intrusive action he could take to set them on that path. Asimov later wrote that he put Olivaw into so many of his stories because his publishers and fans kept insisting on it. --David Bolger

31. Citroën C4
As seen in: That Citroën Ad

Yes, it’s the Citroën advert that no doubt caught your eye. The one when the car stands up and magnificently transforms into a giant dancing robot, performing a routine loosely based on the idea of a Transformers break dance developed by the agents from Justin Timberlake’s choreographer Marty Kudelka. And before you ask, this was before Michael Bay entered the picture. Apparently the car itself was well received, and is actually alive, em, with technology. The dance was accompanied by the extremely catchy tune ”Jacques Your Body (Make Me Sweat)” by Les Rythmes Digitales. Be sure that it’s on your iPod. --Carol Killeen

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Monday, March 7, 2011

One More Robot's Top 50 Robots 50-41

“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


[40-31]
[30-21]
[20-11]
[10-1]

50: Daleks
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

49. Megatron
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

48. Mecha-Streisand
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

47. 2-XL
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

45. ASIMO
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

43. Robocop
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

42. Fembots
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

41. Cyrax
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

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