#4. Adorable Mechanical Seals That Will Scar You for Life
Wait, what? What's this adorable thing doing on a list of terrifying robots?
Oh God, look at it! We take it all back, we want six of those right now. There's no way Paro the seal could ever be anything but adorable. The only thing that could mess up that fluffball made of moist eyes and hugs is if it did something really unprecedentedly insane, like let out bloodcurdling screams every time you touched it or something ...
... wait, it does? And it's capable of getting angry and recognizing if you touch it too hard for its tastes (which, according to that video, seems to be any and all touching )? Never mind, we'll just huddle in the corner instead.
Paro hides $6,000 worth of machinery and cold, black hate inside its cuddly, toylike husk. It's mainly used as an interactive therapy robot for Alzheimer's patients, presumably to give them something they're actually happy to forget. By the way, there's a reasonable chance Paro is going to make its way to U.S. nursing homes as well. Oh, what fun it's going to have with Granny!
No -- it's just baiting you! To it, you are just nutrients!
#3. RI-MAN and Riba Just Want to Hug You ... Forever
RI-MAN is a cuddly, huggable health care robot designed by researchers who probably don't get a lot of dates because of their definition of "cuddly" and, for that matter, "hug."
The more observant of you have already noticed that's not a real person he's "hugging."
But at this point we take what we can get, and are thankful that knives don't seem to feature too heavily in RI-MAN's design. In fact, it's pretty much the opposite of a knife: The whole machine is covered with a soft material that pads it to a degree of what apparently passes in robot scientist circles for huggability, should you for some reason want to cuddle a superstrong artificial humanoid.
Yet once again, the purpose of the robot manages to completely obliterate the harmlessness projected by its look and feel. It is designed to interact with the elderly and the disabled, and more specifically to lift and haul them around on its shovel-like arms. Here's RI-MAN in action:
Wow, that looks like a comfortable ride. And when we say "comfortable," we of course mean "final." Moving with all the grace of a C-3PO unit with a low battery level, it's all too easy to imagine RI-MAN "accidentally" mistaking its passenger for an accordion, an effect that is not exactly helped by the fact that it heavily resembles a 1950s movie monster. Hell, the robot itself expresses surprise when it manages to hold that mannequin in a non-lethal way for about 10 seconds.
The absolute shock in his otherwise murderous eyes says it all.
Add this to the fact that RI-MAN recognizes sounds and homes in on them and can track and remember faces, and then remember that the people RI-MAN is used on can't move on their own accord. They can only wait and hold their breath as it looms in the background, waiting for an opportunity to flail at them with its giant spade-arms.
RI-MAN was used to terrorize Japanese elderly homes, but due to the residents' complaints was subjected to a heavy redesign. This is the result:
Who wouldn't feel safe in Pedobear's arms?
In a fairly creative dick move, the Japanese elderly were recently introduced to the spanking new Riba, the lifting bear. Why a bear? Because they really should've kept their mouths shut about our precious RI-MAN, that's why.
To make things worse, the supposedly much safer bearbot (turns out RI-MAN had some "limited safety and performance functionality," which we assume is Japanese for "murder sprees") comes across as an even more jittery nightmare than its predecessor, as evidenced by this rather sad performance video:
Here's a thought for all you robot-makin' folks out there: If your machine designed for helping helpless humans needs constant help and supervision to do it even remotely safely, it might not be ready for the most fragile members of our species.
#2. Nursebot Pearl Is the New Face of Terror
Via Qolt CMU
Just when you thought the Japanese elderly had it bad, it turns out the real terror comes from within the very borders of America.
Obviously designed after Jack Nicholson's character from The Shining.
A research group in Pittsburgh's own Carnegie Mellon University -- we're just going to assume they're called the Department of Eldritch Abominations -- is developing a nurse robot of their own. The project is called Nursebot Pearl, and frankly, it makes us miss Japan. Their robots might be just one step away from wearing our faces as a mask, but at least they have the decency to be somewhat, we don't know, sleek while doing it.
Nursebot Pearl, on the other hand, makes it evident that U.S. scientists still have miles to go before they're churning out Actroid-F's. However, when it comes to committing crimes against nature, they have that shit down to an art form. Pearl, for instance, is an unholy combination of Wall-E and a demon-possessed toy -- and although it may not have the upper-body strength of RI-MAN and Riba, it more than makes up for this with pure, undistilled horror:
Notice how even the video meant to promote the thing makes no attempt to not make it look like a horror movie villain (at 1:00.). It also seems to have an unhealthy fixation on feeding people multivitamins, which is good for Pearl, as every killer robot should have its modus operandi set at the earliest possible stage.
Granted, Pearl is, at the moment, little more than a mobile reminder of when to take your medicine and when to poop. It can talk when it chooses to, but mostly it communicates via a screen on its chest. However, its true claim to our nightmares lies in its Mr. Potato Head-like nature. Its fully customizable face -- meaning you can choose between a completely inhuman and almost inhuman homebot -- and ever-increasing features and gadgets mean it's just a couple of years away from slithering around on mechanical tentacles.
We're not sure that's a bad thing, compared to what they have right now.
And somehow you just know that one night, when your grandmother is fast asleep, a shadow will fall upon her as an inhuman voice booms right in her ear, "YOU NEED TO TAKE YOUR MULTIVITAMINS. NOW."
#1. Robot Practice Patients
Now that it's apparent that the health care industry has been thoroughly invaded by robots, the only consolation we have left is that humans still comprise the vast majority of the medical profession. Too bad, then, that said humans are nowadays largely trained by highly specialized, human-simulating robots called manikins.
Take a deep breath:
Don't let it out just yet ...
There we go. Aaaannnnd breathe.
Yeah, that's a labor robot all right. Born (ha!) out of desperation due to waning birth rates, this robotic mother -- named Noelle -- gives birth to a robotic baby in various ways, over and over and over again, for the benefit of Korean medical students. It is not known why the mother robot and the baby robot have both been designed to look like Leatherface, but that's mainly because everyone we asked suddenly started crying blood.
Enjoy a robot childbirth, gang:
And Noelle is not alone. There are scores of robots that are built to emulate a very specific patient condition each and used as a way to train young doctors. The trouble is, the only thing these tutors will prepare anyone for treating is the mutant Ripley clone farm from Alien 4.
For instance, here's the robot currently hailed as the masterpiece of patient robots:
And she is seven kinds of hot!
Her name is Keiko, and she's capable of simulating several ailments, all of which seem a whole lot like the world's first robot zombie disease:
Then there are the patient simulator manikins, skin-suit-wearing robots that are used pretty much as guinea pigs. Confined to an operating table, they're used for simulating serious ailments such as swine flu. Oh, and they are also capable of speaking, complaining, convulsing, expressing pain and even crying. We're guessing when the other robots find out about this guy, they're gonna be pissed:
Especially when they see that neglected baby to the right.
And then there are the more ... specialized ones, which look like scientists don't even bother hiding the terror within anymore. Or how else would you explain the nasal endoscope manikin:
Somewhere, Trent Reznor just got a huge erection.
... or the veterinary manikin:
There is no way that guy still has that finger.
For more terror, check out The All-New Cracked.com Zombie Page featuring our most popular zombie articles like 5 Scientific Reasons a Zombie Apocalypse Could Actually Happen and 7 Scientific Reasons a Zombie Outbreak Would Fail Quickly.
For more robot-specific terror, check out 20 Japanese Robots Probably Intent on Murdering You and 6 Shocking Ways Robots Are Already Becoming Human.