When NASA landed a robot on planet Mars on Saturday, the whole world – possibly even the entire galaxy – gazed on in amazement.
The rover vehicle named Curiosity weighs one ton and was lowered down to the surface of the so-called Red Planet hanging by ropes from a rocket backpack. How cool is that!
The size of small car, it took 36 weeks to fly it out into space and Curiosity will now spend two years investigating whether there really is – or was – life on Mars.
It has already begun to beam back images of the surface and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden had said on landing:
“The wheels of Curiosity have begun to blaze the trail for human footprints on Mars.”
Curiosity, the most sophisticated rover ever built, is now on the surface of the Red Planet, where it will seek to answer age-old questions about whether life ever existed on Mars – or if the planet can sustain life in the future.
“This is an amazing achievement, made possible by a team of scientists and engineers from around the world and led by the extraordinary men and women of NASA and our Jet Propulsion Laboratory. President Obama has laid out a bold vision for sending humans to Mars in the mid-2030s and today’s landing marks a significant step toward achieving this goal.”
But while Curiosity begins to stake a claim as the world’s new favourite robot, here are some of the best robotic inventions – both real and fictional – who already hold a place in our hearts.
Created by Honda, Asimo is one of the most lifelike robots you will ever see.
Standing more than 4ft tall, it can walk up to 1.7mph and has become a major celebrity, appearing on TV shows and in videos on the internet including one where he conducts the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
One of the movie industry’s most memorable characters, the star of Short Circuit is an 80s legend.
He inspired many home inventors to attempt to create similar replicas simply so they could shout “Johnny 5 is alive!”. Do you need another excuse?
The 21st century Johnny 5, Wall-e delighted cinema audiences young and old when Disney released its space movie in 2008.
Designed just to collect rubbish, Wall-e ended up having to save the whole of mankind.
ITV’s legendary robot had his own TV series in the early 1980s watched by millions of viewers every weekend. He’s even on Twitter @MeetMetalMickey and makes personal appearances!
This near million pound robot can be controlled by an iPhone – or even better from the one-man cockpit inside.
It is 13ft tall and was made by a Japanese company. It’s pretty scary when you imagine what something like this could be capable of in the future or the wrong hands. Especially if you’ve seen Robocop!
The poor put-upon mechanical servant in the BBC’s Red Dwarf provided plenty of laughs in the space-age comedy.
He was originally played by David Ross but Robert Llewellyn is best known for bringing him to life in eight series of the hit show.
This robotic table tennis star would have been awesome in the Olympics.
Standing over 6ft tall in its 3.0 version, it would strike a pretty imposing figure staring you down from the other side of the net.
It’s the first real robot to make it into the home but hasn’t yet taken off.
This NaviBot model from Samsung can clean your carpets at the touch of a button and move around the room without bumping into furniture. It’s clever and while expensive, it’s certainly going to be the future.
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