9 Low tech vs. high tech: Taliban fighters in Afghanistanhave reportedly used ladders to flip over and disable the U.S. militaryrobots sent to scout out their caves.
10 Elektro, the world’s first humanoid robot, debuted in1939. Built by Westinghouse, the seven-foot-tall walking machine“spoke” more than 700 words stored on 78-rpm records to simulateconversation.
11 Life is tough in Tinseltown: Elektro later appeared in the 1960 B movie Sex Kittens Go to College.
12 R2-D2 is the only character that appears unchanged (by aging, say, or a funky black outfit) in all six Star Wars movies.
13 R2’s dark secret: It was played by actor Kenny Baker, who by the end was mostly given the boot and replaced by CGI.
14 Chris Melhuish of the Bristol Robotics Laboratory createdrobots that use bacteria-filled fuel cells to produce electricity fromrotten apples and dead flies. The goal: robots that forage for theirown food.
15 Mini Me: Australian researchers are trying to build amicrorobot that would mimic the swim stroke used by E. coli bacteria.It would be injected into a patient so it could take a biopsy from theinside.
16 Cybernetics professor Kevin Warwick calls himself theworld’s first cyborg, with computer chips implanted in his left arm. Hecan remotely operate doors, an artificial hand, and an electronicwheelchair.
17 Winebot, built by Japan’s NEC System Technologies and MieUniversity, can ID scads of different wines, cheeses, and horsd’oeuvres . . . up to a point. It recently mistook a reporter’s handfor prosciutto.
18 MIT’s Media Lab is trying to make robots personal,developing RoCo—a computer with a monitor for a head and neck—andLeonardo, a sort of super-Furby designed to respond to emotional cues.
19 No strings attached! Robotics expert Henrik Christensen predicts humans will be having sex with robots within four years.
20 Hans Moravec, founder of Carnegie Mellon’s RoboticsInstitute, predicts that robots will emerge as their own species by2040. “They could replace us in every essential task and, in principle,operate our society increasingly well without us,” he concludes, oddlycheery.