Tuesday, 17 May 2016


16 Robots That Will Definitely Kill You
By Chandra Steele,
PC Magazine, 14 May 2016.

I once witnessed a robot kill someone.

I was a kid. A killer, fresh from murdering his parents and several others, came to our neighborhood looking for a hideout. He broke into the home of an elderly couple two doors down and held them hostage. They managed to escape, but the killer was still in the house, armed with a rifle. Those of us in the surrounding homes were ordered by police to remain there lest we be shot taking out the trash or walking to a car. But we couldn't stay inside forever, so the SWAT team that was using my parents' kitchen as a base of operations came up with a plan. A few hours later, a tiny little car the size of those small mail-delivery trucks pulled up. The doors opened and out came…what looked like Johnny Five.

I was a bit upset. This robot was adorable and they were going to send him inside to get blasted away by a crazed killer. Not so. The robot inched along the street, then up the path to the house. It opened the locked door with ease and proceeded to follow and film the killer. He shot at it. It kept going. He went upstairs to escape it. It climbed up right behind him. He shot at it again. This scenario repeated for hours until he eventually went even crazier than he had already been and, unable to shake or destroy the robot, shot himself. We were free.

Now in some ways I owe that robot my life. In other ways, it taught me that robots should maybe make me fear for it. The robots you're about to see are all designed to help people. Some of them are even quite cute. But make no mistake; if given the chance, they will kill you.

1. Topio


Go with him if you want to live. Topio just wants to play ping-pong all day every day. It uses AI to improve its skills and not at all to run Skynet.

2. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheeple?

Hanson Robots occupy the uncanny valley and its AI-equipped Philip K. Dick lookalike is an especially scary inhabitant. This robot amiably says, "I remember my friends and will be good to you. So don’t worry, even if I evolve into Terminator, I'll still be nice to you and keep you warm and safe in my people zoo." And then he laughs.

3. Bad Romance

This Art Basel entry by Jordan Wolfson is a nightmare version of Lady Gaga. It dances rhythmically in front of a mirror to which it is impaled and speaks of love and then asks you to close your eyes. It’s guaranteed to be the last thing you’re ever going to see.

4. RoboCue

RoboCue is a search-and-rescue robot that works for the Tokyo Fire Department. It's designed to pull people out of dangerous situations and...into its body. Welp.

5. Diego-san

Diego-san is from Hanson Robotics, which developed him to study cognitive development. He is designed to "extract the underlying social controller used by infants." Extract. Social controller. Infants.

6. Anna Konda

Anna Konda is a tiny firefighter. It can get into spaces too small or dangerous for human firefighters and dispense water at 1450 PSI. Its creator Sintef states, "The robot is to our knowledge the biggest and strongest snake robot in the world." Did I mention that it can climb stairs and break through walls? Don't want none.

7. Tomatan


He seems horrified by his crimes but unrepentant.

Tomatan is a wearable robot designed to fuel runners by feeding them tomatoes. He's the product of juice maker Kagome and he can carry six tomatoes at a time and lower them to chewing height. Why you would want to consume a tomato while running is not a question to be answered here.

8. Tmsuk T-34 Security Robot

Catches thieves just like flies. The security-minded Tmsuk T-34 can suss out perps with its body-heat sensors and then call for backup (aka, a human) for instructions on whether or not it should catch them in its web.

9. Reem B


I guess you could try to appease them with presents.

Reem B from Pal Technology is designed simply to be of service and can chat with people and guide them around. He's such a Hal, I mean, Pal.’'

10. Robo Go-Go


Electric Barbarella. Try to resist.

All she wants to do is dance. This robot entertains the crowd in the Robot Restaurant in the Shinjuku of Tokyo.

11. RIBA


Built to help the elderly, who very suspiciously die every day, RIBA (Robot for Interactive Body Assistance) can put you in a wheelchair. Um, move you from a bed to a wheelchair.

12. Tiago


Tiago demonstrates that one arm is more than enough to strangle you with. It's here to help you in your research environment, and is happy to pick things up and move them around with its super strength. Manufacturer Pal describes it as the perfect mobile manipulator.

13. HRP-2 Promet

Why wait for a robot to become sentient and learn to kill on his own? Just teach him martial arts from the get-go.

The humanoid known as HRP-2 Promet is hard to tip over or get away from. It's a study in making robot technology that can walk on an uneven surface, get up after having fallen, and conduct whatever "human-interactive operations in open spaces" is.

14. Valkyrie

I know how this ends. Where's my sonic screwdriver?

If things go well for Valkyrie, it could go to Mars and perform as a human avatar. The humanoid is made by NASA, which for some reason decided to name it after mythological women who decide who lives and who dies.

15. The Last Samurai

He was meant to work a factory job but for some reason the Yaskawa Motoman MH24 was trained to wield a katana in the mode of famed sword master Isao Machii.

16. K-9 Meet K5

The Knightscope K5 is so so cute and so so familiar. What am I thinking of when I look at it? Ohhh. A Dalek. The company’s "predict and prevent crime" video for the security bot does little to dispel this association. The K5 is always watching and patrolling, ready to report your presence as a security breach and then…

Top image: Diego-san. Credit: Hanson Robotics.

[Source: PC Magazine. Edited.]

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