The 7 Creepiest Robots to See in Action


Plenty of robots look terrifying, but when it comes right down to it, the most unsettling part always comes from their movement: They're just creepy sculptures, until they start jerking around, crab-walking down the stairs, and devouring your dog to fuel their sinister engines. Here are seven robots you just have to see in action to appreciate, and by "appreciate," I of course mean "nuke from orbit before they can mobilize and turn against us":


These are the Swarm-bots, and really, you don't need to know anything else to judge them. At no point in history has the term 'swarm' been applied to something pleasant -- you don't buy your kids "a swarm of ice cream cones," and you don't receive "a swarm of blowjobs" -- it's always something that wants to sting you, kill you, and lay eggs in your inexplicably-still-screaming corpse. The Swarm-bots are no exception to the rule: Built by Intelligent Design Systems, the same collective that brought us robots who learned how to lie, poison and murder (as covered in
the sexiest tome of knowledge ever collected,) the Swarm-bots are seen here demonstrating their teamwork and problem solving skills. IDS figured the best way to really illustrate the implications of robots learning these lessons was to videotape them ganging up on, and then dragging away a terrified child.

The 7 Creepiest Robots to See in Action
"Intelligent Design Systems: We ain't front; our robots eat kids."

The girl was bribed into participating in the Swarm-bot demonstration, but it's obvious she doesn't want that Barbie anymore - her only Earthly desire at this point is to not be pulled away and deconstructed into her base elements to build other Swarm-bots. But she's going to learn a hard lesson about life, because that's exactly what's going to happen here. Look at the expression of terror on the girl's face at about 2:30: She's clearly been paralyzed or drugged somehow, left aware but unable to move or cry out. This video isn't a "demonstration of concept," it's a slow motion techno-Mayan sacrifice.

Millipede Bot

Researchers at Japan's Tohoku University went and built a robot designed after a millipede. That's not "beginning with good intentions and accidentally unleashing a horror," that's starting right off at creepy then hopping onto the Terror Expressway: Millipedes are infamous solely for their gross and unsettling locomotion, undulating along, like they do, on their thousand scrabbling little legs. So you went ahead and built a robot that does that too, except it's also eight meters long, translucent, and hairy. What was your business proposal? "Gentlemen, I want to take the worst elements of giant snakes, deep sea creatures, and spiders, then build a robot out of them!" And when they asked toward what end -- what possible use could one have for this flailing robo-tentacle raping machine - you had the balls to answer: "Rescue!"

The 7 Creepiest Robots to See in Action
"Revenge against my bitch of an ex-wife! She'll never forget that COCKtail party! MWAHAHA...I mean...uh...rescue!"

The Millipede Bot (or Active Scope System) has a camera built into the head, and is meant to snake it's way through the rubble left behind by earthquakes to locate trapped survivors. The first thing they tell you, should you ever find yourself trapped in an enclosed space, is not to panic; you'll just make it worse....and then they send the Squirming Avatar of Panic to crawl out of the cracks in the darkness and writhe all over your body while you wait to be dug out. Presumably while the rescuers take bets on how long it'll take you to hyperventilate all the oxygen out of the room and die of asphyxiation.

Voltron Copters

Robotic movements are so unsettling because the 'bots are mimicking motions typically reserved for living creatures, and something is just fundamentally off with their execution. There's usually no greater horror waiting to fully dawn on you at a later time, settling like a sheet of existential dread over your frontal lobes as you lie awake in the wee hours of the morning. Not so with the Distributed Flight Array, designed by ETH Zurich's Institute for Dynamics Systems and Control. Sure, there's something a little disturbing about their hyper-agile hovering ballet:

But the true terror on display here is more of a creeping thing. It comes on when you realize that the robots grow stronger, faster, more agile, and more stable as they connect together. One solo flight platform is shaky and slow, but soon it will join up with others, and others, and on and on to infinity - there is literally no limit to how many of these robots can band together into a vast flying blanket of cold, unfeeling, mechanical evil. It's kind of like Voltron...if Voltron were made up of an infinite amount of lions. Oh, and fun fact: Even if you do manage to take a few out, they're designed to isolate and compensate for the dead or damaged units until such time as they can call up and swap in new ones, thus ensuring that they will never, ever have to cease chopping at your entrails. Not even for a second.

Extending Bot

"Aw, look at the
cute lil' robot! Mary, come look at this! It's like a little Wall-E and wha - what's it doing? No. No! Mary, quick, up that tree! Is's growing! But how?! Keep climbing, Mary! For the love of God, why won't it stop?! This is impossible! This can't happen! Did it
eat physics?! Higher, Mary, higher! What, that's the top? Oh. That's it, then. That's all we can do. And it's still coming. It's laughing in the face of all that we know about the universe, but it. Is. Still. Coming. Mary, I'm afraid this is it for us. There's something I've always wanted to tell you, darling: I nailed your sister. At the wedding. What's that? My brother? Ha ha, you're magnificent! Yes, yes I'll save you a seat in hell, beloved."

Robot Hands

Until now, I would never have thought it possible to dribble with terrifying efficiency. When you first see Ishikawa Hashimoto Laboratory's Multi-fingered Robot Hands in motion, it looks like somebody designed and built a nerd-bot. It just spazzes out and flails frantically whenever a ball is tossed in its direction. Then the footage slows down, and you realize that even if the Harlem Globetrotters were right, and Armageddon
does come down to a basketball game for the fate of the world, the robots will still have the upper hand. Probably hundreds of them, actually.From the aforementioned dribbling, to tossing and catching a piece of foam, to idly spinning a pen -- IHL's Robot Hands seem to have one mission in this world: To take pedestrian tasks and utterly corrupt them. And my, how they succeed: From this day forward, you'll never be able to watch a simple game of catch without your stomach churning for reasons you cannot fully comprehend.

Limbless...Fucking...Torso Bot?!

The Telenoid R1 Telepresence Robot is ostensibly meant to help busy Japanese families visit with their elderly parents in a more personal way, by mimicking their body language and facial expressions during phone calls. This should go without saying, but if you're the type of person who can't be assed to make it out to grandma's for the weekend, the next logical step is not moving a robot into their house that looks like Michael Stipe fucked a seal and somebody botched the abortion. Watch that video: The whole time it's flopping and nodding up there, you know it's just waiting for the old man to turn his back so it can crawl into one of his orifices and take control of his body. Oh, and in case you didn't think it could get worse, here's what it looks like when you actually get a call:

It sits there, totally inert... until the phone rings. Then it abruptly opens its mouth, gasps, and snaps into life, staring at you expectantly with it's non-face and fucking black shark eyes. That's how you answer a call. Or rather, that's how you receive a call. How you "answer" a call is with endless, frantic screaming, followed by six heart-attacks and a funeral. It's on sale for about 8,000 dollars, and there you have it: The exact dollar figure it takes to let your elderly parents know that you have always, always hated them.

Every Single Thing Boston Dynamics Has Ever Done

You might recognize the name Boston Dynamics from one of their earlier creations, Big Dog: The very first robot to turn the mere act of walking into nightmare fuel. If not, here you go! Welcome to the party: There's chips in the living room and we're all going to form a sobbing circle in the living room about eight, just before the suicide pact kicks in. The video up top is of their newest striding horror, Petman. It's got all the unsettling, nauseating, not-quite-life of Big Dog, but this time it's making a mockery out of people instead of our four-legged friends. The technology itself is kind of a big deal, because Petman utilizes a human-like heel/toe stride instead of the more hesitant, unstable stomping that other robots employ. And at about 25 seconds in, thanks to the bravest (and soon to be most-kicked-to-death) intern at Boston Dynamics, you can really see that stability on display when the man tries, and fails to push it over. It should also be noted that nobody bought it those goofy tennis shoes: They all just showed up to the lab one morning to find it already wearing them. On an unrelated note: Dr. Witstein's niece Penny went missing on her tour of the lab the other day, and her family is very concerned. Please call Security if you have any information. Oh, but Petman is just the beta version -- a demonstration of the walking concept. The actual robot to be deployed on the battlefield is called Atlas, and here's a quote explaining it, pulled from Boston Dynamics' own promo text: "Atlas will have a torso, two arms and two legs, and will be capable of climbing and maneuvering in rough terrain. It will sometimes walk upright as a biped, sometimes turning sideways to squeeze through narrow passages, and sometimes crawl, using its hands for extra support, speed and balance."

The 7 Creepiest Robots to See in Action
Whatever the hell this is, I'm sure nobody will ever regret giving it "extra speed."

Picture it: It's a foggy night, and you're on your way home from the late shift at work. In the distance, you hear strange, muffled footsteps. You can't quite pinpoint where they're coming from, but there's just about the gait: It's bouncy and a little unsteady, like a happy drunk, but moving way too fast for that. Eventually, a form resolves out of the mist. It is something like a man, but broader, more angular, and -- good god, lacking a head! It approaches you quickly, and with purpose. You finally snap out of the shock, and turn to flee. You glance back over your shoulder, just in time to see it drop to all fours, like an ape, the skittering footsteps picking up speed...Oh, man. I'm sorry. I'm over-reacting again, aren't I? Atlas clearly isn't built to chase down human prey. That's Cheetah, their next project already in the works right now.

You can buy Robert's book, Everything is Going to Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways the World Wants You Dead, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook or you could just start running. Apparently you're going to need the head start.

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