Amazing advancements in technology in recent years have led to some terrifying robots currently in development. With those advancements come new opportunities that we have never before thought possible. Robots today are capable of going to the furthest reaches of the planet, communicate like humans, and even learn, but as anyone who has watched any of the “Terminator” movies can tell you, this could be just as scary a prospect as it is exciting.
Nowadays, we have robots that can outrun us, outsmart us, and even some that can kill us if they tried. As AI improves each year, it may not be long before they think for themselves. With all that said, here are 25 of the most terrifying robots currently in development. Make sure to remember their names, because some of the machines might just take over the world some day.
REEM is a full-size humanoid service robot capable of acting as a guide, receptionist, entertainer, and even give speeches or presentations in multiple languages. Its manufacturers, PAL-Robotics, state that their goal with REEM is to provide a friendly, interactive information source that can be used in malls, airports, hospitals, and other public locations. That said, I wouldn’t blame you for being cautious about approaching this robot, as its blank, mouthless face and three fingered hands are enough to put anyone off.
The GhostSwimmer is an unmanned underwater vehicle designed to mimic a shark or other large fish swimming through the water. This unassuming “disguise” allows it to perform sub-aquatic reconnaissance and surveillance at depths up to 300 feet while staying hidden in ways a submarine couldn’t. For this reason, the U.S. Navy plans to eventually use the GhostSwimmer to discretely monitor the oceans without endangering human lives.
Another robotic design based off of a living animal, the RobiticANTS are, as the name suggests, inspired by ants. These insectoid robots are autonomous, meaning they can function on their own and react to stimuli around them in real time, however, just like real ants, these robots are much more focused on the group than the individual. They are able to communicate and coordinate with other RoboticANTS nearby in order to solve complex problems. So, it may not be too far in the future that you’ll be seeing entire swarms of tiny, robotic insects running about.
The dictionary definition of uncanny valley, engineers created this child-like humanoid robot with one thing in mind, to test the learning capabilities of AI. Designed at the Osaka University in Japan, CB2 has been built with the ability to recognize facial expressions and gestures and derive meaning from such things, much like how an human infant would. The lead scientist on the project has claimed one of their goals was to teach CB2 human language, and that he believed that there would be a whole new race of robo-humans living alongside real humans sometime in the future.
Roughly the size of a small mule, BigDog is a military funded robot produced by the Google-owned company Boston Dynamics. It has the ability to carry up to 100 pounds and cross rough terrains that would be impossible for a robot on wheels, making it a useful pack mule for soldiers. Being Boston Dynamics’ first quadrupedal robot, the technology of BigDog has changed drastically over time, and it has become the basis on which many future robots would be modeled after.
I don’t think I have to explain what makes the T8X so terrifying, just the fact that it’s a giant robotic spider is scary enough on its own. The appearance isn’t everything though, this robot has been programmed to move and behave exactly like a real spider would, upping the creepiness tenfold. Luckily, the T8X is only a remote controlled toy, but the company behind the T8X, aptly named “Robugtix,” has a number of new spider-bots in the works, bigger, more autonomous, and even more terrifying.
ASIMO is a humanoid service robot currently being developed by Honda Robotics. The ASIMO project started all they way back in 2000, and today it is one of the more advanced humanoid robots in the world with the ability to recognize faces, voices, and gestures, and it can autonomously decide how to respond, such as waving or shaking an offered hand.
Created by Boston Dynamics, this six-legged robot excels at traversing rough terrain such as rocks, mud, sand, vegetation, and snow. This versatility, along with RHex’s completely water proof body, makes this little insectoid robot one of the most successful machines for surveying or reconnaissance in hard to reach, dangerous locations. Extensive testing by the U.S. government has found that it’s capable of going pretty much anywhere.
This robotic bat moves, flies, and resembles the animal from which it gets its name in every way except for one; it has a body length of more than two feet long and a wingspan of nearly seven and a half feet, all while barely cracking one pound. The robot is autonomous in the air, though it still needs assistance taking off or landing. It can compare data from each flight to a database and “learn” the most efficient way for it to travel.
MIT’s new Cheetah 3 robot is not only capable of galloping over rough terrain, climbing stairs, and leaping over 30 inches in the air, but also doing all of that without the use of any cameras or environmental sensors whatsoever. Although the engineers do intend to eventually add working sensors, the robots ability to operate uneven terrain completely blind could make it the perfect candidate to head in to environments where vision could be unreliable.
At first glance, you may not have realized the woman in the middle of this picture is actually not a real woman at all, or even a real human for that matter. That is actually Actroid-F, an experimental android created by Osaka University’s Hiroshi Ishiguro with the goal of creating the most lifelike android possible. Actroid-F can speak, blink, recognize facial expressions, and react at their own discretion. Though impressive, they have more work ahead of them to overcome the pesky uncanny valley.
Short for “Protection Ensemble Test Mannequin,” PETMAN is a humanoid military robot designed to mimic the movement and behavior of a human soldier to test the next generation of military apparel and safety equipment. It can walk, run, crawl, and even sweat like a human. In the future, it could be deployed autonomously for search and rescue operations within dangerous areas.
Another Boston Dynamics robot developed for military use, the Legged Squad Support System (LS3) is an automated quadrupedal robot funded by the U.S. military that can be used a robitic “mule” of sorts. Capable of autonomously following its leader, understanding simple voice commands, and carrying over 400 lbs of payload, LS3 were used by the marines for some time before they were eventually retired because of their loud noise and extreme weight (over 1300 lbs!) Still, future updates to the machine could put it back into use, and it has since helped Boston Dynamics improve upon their many other quadruped robots.
Created by German software developer Tobit Software, these pole dancing robots were featured at the CeBIT expo in Hanover in 2014 and, more recently, at a gentleman’s club in Las Vegas during the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show. Though the robots are comparatively simple to some others on this list, they definitely weren’t any less unnerving with their robotic dance moves and security camera heads. One things for certain though, whenever the robot revolution does come to fruition at some point in the future, us humans are going to have a lot to answer for.
The flic-flac spider found in the deserts of Morocco is known for its ability to cartwheel itself away from danger, allowing it to move over twice as fast as it would normally be able to walk, provided the terrain is even. If you don’t think that’s terrifying already, the engineers over at Festo decided to make a robot that does the exact same thing. The spider-like BionicWheelBot is capable of switching between a walking and rolling mode allowing it quickly roll across even surfaces as well as cross more difficult terrain.
A sized down version of Boston Dynamics’ Bigdog, Spot trades in some of the strength and power of his older brother to become faster, more versatile, and able to function indoors and in tight spaces. A popular video on Boston Dynamics’ website demonstrates how the machine can stabilize itself and stand up on its own after engineers repeatedly kick it to the ground. Yeah, I know it’s just a test video showing how impressive the robot is, but I can’t shake the feeling that one day this mechanical hound is gonna snap and decide to take its revenge.
The Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System, or MAARS for short, is an unmanned robot developed specifically for use in the military, and it has already begun sparking debates on the ethicality of using robots as machines for killing and war. The MAARS robot can be outfitted with satellite tracking systems, day and night cameras, a hostile fire detection system, and a smorgasbord of weapons (both lethal and non-lethal) that can be operated remotely.
Atlas is an advanced, humanoid robot currently being developed by Boston Dynamics. Originally based off of the technology used in PETMAN, Atlas has taken on a life of his own and has proved himself capable of running, jumping, standing up on his own if he is knocked over, crossing difficult terrain including snow, and even doing a backflip. Still Atlas has a long way to go, and who knows what he’ll be capable of in the future.
If you think this giant rideable mech would at home in a Japanese anime or manga, then the lead designer and artist Kogoro Kurata did his job well. Inspired by the the anime he watched as a kid, Kogoro contacted Suidobashi Heavy Industry to create Kuratas; a robotic behemoth that stands 13 feet tall, weighs approximately 5 tons, and has a number of attachments including a rotating BB minigun, a rocket launcher, and a surprisingly dexterous humanoid hand.
Although not quite as fast as its smaller precursor, Cheetah, WildCat brings that that speed out of the laboratory and into the real world. WildCat has the record for the fastest free running quadrupedal robot at 19.8 mph, and it can maintain its speed and stability while maneuvering and turning corners. The engineers at Boston Dynamics hope to eventually have WildCat running at speeds of 50 mph or more, and they’ve the financial backing of none other than DARPA to make sure they have whatever it takes to meet their goals.
Sophia is a social humanoid robot that uses advanced AI to interact with humans, even going so far as processing her own speech and understanding and mimicking human facial expressions and behaviors. Her creators, Hanson Robotics, believe she is the first step to creating truly sentient AI; she has already become the first robot to receive full citizenship in a country. Although she is still far from being real artificial life, Sophia’s existence has definitely started to blur the line between human and machine, if only slightly.
Created by the Norwegian robotics company of the same name, the Eelume is a serpent-like robot designed to be used deep underwater to monitor and repair deep sea cables and irrigation tubes that wouldn’t be accessible to by divers or submarines. While that’s all well and good, it doesn’t explain why one of the first prototypes of the robot needed to be painted a terrifying jet black with glowing red eyes…yeah, real funny guys. Luckily, the newest models have been brightened up a little bit, but even so, just the knowledge that these mechanical sea snakes might soon be slithering through oceans all around the world should be enough to keep you from going back to the beach any time soon.
One of Boston Dynamics newest and most ambitious projects; Handle is a strange, alien-looking robot that stands six and a half feet tall and can skate around on wheels at speeds up to 9 mph or drop to all fours in order to traverse over any terrain in its path. Even the Robot’s own creators described Handle as “nightmare-inducing.”
At 13 feet tall and weighing over one and a half tons, Hankook Mirae Technology’s Method-2 is the world’s first manned bipedal robot, and it looks like it came straight out of a futuristic sci-fi movie. Currently, Method-2 is still tethered to its testing facility in South Korea while its creators work out the many kinks in it’s design, however it’s only a matter of time before it’s walking on its own without the restraints of its safety harness. The immediate plan for the robot is to help humans safely work in dangerous locations, such as the the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster area, but one of the long term uses could be deployment along the border between North and South Korea to hopefully discourage any hostility between the neighbors.
Just as Spot was a miniaturized version of BigDog, SpotMini is a miniaturized version of Spot. Designed to be smaller, quieter, and more energy efficient, SpotMini is made to be able maneuver around your office or home. It also comes with an attachable arm fitted with a lobsteresque grasping claw, giving it a unnervingly dinosaur-like appearance.