Earlier today I ran across a fun little video about a new animatronic WALL E robot that will soon be roaming Disney Parks. I kind of like WALL E, although those big round eyes are a bit too Disney cute. Since I have not seen the movie yet, only some fun trailers, I don’t know if he will earn a place in my heart, but he got me thinking about some of the other robots, both real and imagined, that seem to have touched me on an emotional level. So, even though there are already so many robot lists on the net, after the jump is my own Top 5 Favorite Robots
My Top 5 Favorite Robots
1. Huey , Dewey and Louie from Silent Running
The first robots I remember that tugged my heart were the adorable little Huey, Dewey and Louie from Silent Running. As a child, this movie reached me in a number of ways. My love of nature and forests and the importance of preserving them, and how much fun those little six wheel buggies looked zooming around the space station, but most of all I still remember longing a for a little robot friend of my very own. An unquestioning companion to follow me around and help out with jobs and learn new things from me. I think I wanted one harder than I wanted a puppy.
Like so many other people I fell in love with R2 the moment I saw him in the first Star Wars movie. He is cute, but not too much so, he is capable, and is so cool looking. It never made much sense that he didn’t speak English, but then again he was supposed to be a starship mechanic and not a personal assistant for a princess. I love how he can wheel or walk, on two legs or three. It was of course ridiculous when he sprouted the little thrusters to fly in the later movies. I have always had a thing for R2-D2 and if I could afford it I would buy every remote control R2-D2, interactive R2-D2, R2-D2 pepper mill, laundry basket, trash can, speaker, video projector, webcam, cookie jar and now even shampoo dispenser. But I can’t, so I make do with my little R2 mini figures, a R2-D2 cooler I found at a garage sale, and of course my R2 Potatoo (which is also part of my large Mr Potato Head collection, but that’s another story). My personal pet peeve; don’t write his name as Artoo, his name is R2-D2.
3. Johnny 5 from Short Circuit
I am also a fan of Johnny 5 from Short Circuit, I think he is one of the more technically interesting and potentially feasible fictional robot designs (other than a power source, and of course the whole ‘alive’ thing). I suppose in the movie he had too much personality to take seriously as a robot, but I just liked him for some reason, scanning those books yelling “input input, need more input”. I still can’t help uttering a metallic “disassemble” when taking something apart.
One from the reality column, that lovable little walking, running, stair climbing, dancing, conducting guy from Honda. Something about watching him walk the first time and thinking “wow, that looks like a man in a suit” that just really grabbed me. His name supposedly stands for “Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility”, but I always felt it must also be a nod to Isaac Asimov. Honda hopes someday he can help elderly or disabled people. I found it interesting that although the earlier prototypes where taller, the engineers felt Asimo had to be shorter so he would not intimidate people. I realize that he is more of a marketing act still, appearing in commercials and public events and has yet to do any real work for anyone yet, but he still strikes me as the first baby step towards really useful humanoid android helpers living in our homes in the future, although I see some don’t agree with me. It’s hard not to project a personality onto this little guy when you see him in action.
Last but not least comes Doctor Who’s loyal companion K-9. Who wouldn’t want a obedient robot dog with scanner ears and a laser in his nose? I understand that the radio control K-9 models used in the shows’ production created some trouble as the radio signals interfered with the video equipment, and the models small wheels were unable to traverse any terrain on the set. They sometimes had to create a special smooth path for him, or use a piece of fishing line to pull him along. Nonetheless, in the fantasy world he was an excellent companion which I would love to have by my side. Maybe he just needs some tracks under that body instead of small wheels.
There they are, my top 5 favorite robots. Did I forget some? What are your favorites?