Robots have been a popular feature in movies and on television for … well pretty much as long as there have been movies and television. These robots come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes big screen robots can talk, sometimes they have human emotions, and sometimes they are totally indistinguishable from human beings altogether. At some point, you might have been watching a movie with robots beeping, speaking, rolling, or running, and thought to yourself, “Wouldn’t it be cool if real robots were like this?”. Or maybe you thought the opposite, “I’m feeling incredibly thankful that this robot isn’t real.”
Unlike real robots, robots in movies and television aren’t limited by science and technology. Fictional robots are only limited by creativity and imagination. However these fictional robots are starting to show up in our real life robots. Here are a few famous robots from television and movies that are not quite as fictional as they used to be.
KITT, from Knight Rider, was an artificially intelligent computer mounted in an advanced robotic car. We still haven’t created artificial intelligence, but we do have some pretty smart cars. Google’s driverless car is just the beginning of highly advanced automated vehicles.
Androids are part human and part robot, and maybe one of the most unsettling interpretations of robots in fiction. We don’t currently have androids that are mistaken for human beings like the replicants in Blade Runner, but roboticists in Japan are trying to get us there.
Modular robots are the building blocks for a transforming robot like Optimus Prime. Today’s modular robots are nowhere near as sophisticated as a Transformer, but you have to start somewhere.
The Jetsons had a robotic maid that would carry out basic tasks for the futuristic family. If we could combine a Roomba and Botlr, we’d be pretty close to having an automaton that could help us out around the house. Roomba is an automated vacuum cleaner and Botlr is a robotic “butler”. Plus Botlr kind of looks like R2D2, another famous fictional robot.
Robocop is real! Well, sort of. Actually, not even close. But there are robots acting as late night security guards in Silicon Valley. They also look like R2D2!
Whether these fictional robots served as inspiration for scientists, engineers, and roboticists, or technology simply fell into place as predicted by writers is up for debate. Either way, it’s interesting to see how fictional robots have started coming to life. We will just have to wait and see to what extent robots from movies and television will start to appear in real life. Let’s just hope that a T-1000 isn’t on the horizon.