Killer Robots



When it comes to robots, and to life in general for that matter, I'm basically a 'constructivist' - meaning that I want to do something positive and constructive as opposed to tearing things down and destroying them. I view robotics as a way to learn more about ourselves, how we act, how we think, and, if I'm lucky, do some good along the way. I've always been fascinated by robots. It probably goes back to my childhood when I was totally in awe of Klaatu and his robot (The Day The Earth Stood Still.) I was only 5 or 6 at the time it was released in 1951 to the theaters, so I probably saw it for the first time a few years later on television. Klaatu's motives were very simple straight forward, but obviously misunderstood, and in the end his robot ended up wreaking more than a little bit of havoc on the populace. Of course at that age I didn't worry about the moral or social issues involved. I just wanted to be entertained and TDTESS kept my eyes glued to the screen from the opening titles until the final credits. Over the years I've watched that movie quite a few times, and will probably watch it again a few more times. 

A few years later I saw "Forbidden Planet" (1956) for the first time. It featured Walter Pigeon, Leslie Nielsen, Anne Francis, and Robbie the Robot playing himself. Not being much of a film critic (11 year olds don't make good film critics), I absolutely loved the movie. Had I been a few years older I would have dreamt about Anne Francis, but at that age I dreamed about how neat Robbie was, and how great he would be to play with. I wanted one - no question. It was a long time before I figured out that Forbidden Planet was just a space opera based on Shakespeare's "The Tempest" with Dr. Morbius (Walter Pigeon) playing the Prospero role.

Just one year later I was introduced to my first totally destructive, no holds barred, rip'em, tear'em, crush'em robot - Kronos in "Kronos - Ravager of Planets" (1957). Jeff Morrow played the hero in Kronos, and I'm sure he turned in a reasonable performance, but my strongest memories of the movie were of Kronos stomping out of the ocean and preparing to act just like a robotic Godzilla stomping on anything in its path. I have to say that I didn't appreciate Kronos as much as the other robots I'd seen in the movies. He was entertaining, but just didn't turn me on.

Over the years that followed I found that I had a real affinity for the constructive robots, and very little interest in those that were dead set on mass destruction. I'm not talking about sumobots or other fairly harmless competitive robots. I'm talking about the robots that come equipped with front mounted buzz saws and other weapons of mass destruction. You know - the ones that go into the ring and only one of them comes out alive. The battle to the death class of robot.

Decades later, I still feel very much the same way. I'd rather spend my time building (and playing with) constructive robots. I totally understand the emotions and feelings of those that hold exactly the opposite position. If they want to build robots to rip the living guts out of their opponents, then more power to them. It's just not my personal cup of tea.

Still, I can certainly enjoy watching them compete, and might even find myself rooting for one of the competitors.

Tsunami by Team Sinister
SOZBOTS Sixteen OZ Fighting Robots


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