On the back of my post on Uniforms and Space Suits it strikes me that there’s something really Sci-Fi is missing or hasn’t thought of – Robotics and automation. Why is this? Basically humans are not meant to live in space there really are very few environments that are so inhospitable to us. That’s why we need spacesuits to live in space and when you consider how cumbersome they are it has to be asked – wouldn’t a robot be better for the job?
Robots are all over Sci-Fi, one of the most iconic is Robbie from Forbidden planet. Far too clumsy to be able to carry out fine motor operations but for heavy stuff would be great.
Marvin was another example, but with emotional failures was too depressed to be of anything other than basic use.
Interstellar had another example of the use of robots in space missions, TARS a tactical robot that was able to carry out ship operations and go places that the humans couldn’t without a suit.
To look more at automation HAL was essentially the brain of the spaceship Discovery 1. There was nothing on the spacecraft that wasn’t under the control of HAL, this was the safety and ultimately failure of their mission.
Robots are not just going to become a fancy accessory but an essential part of space missions. They have to be, the risks of space walks to humans makes it inevitable. They need no food or water to operate and no oxygen to breathe in space. They can go where humans can’t. But they have to have limitations, all the robots in the stories have their limitations from R2D2 all the way through to our friend Marvin.
So if a robot needs to be written into a story,don’t make it too perfect ot too human (unless that the point of the story) make it a bit clumsy, or immobile. But don’t make it depressed!