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Retro robots: 13 old androids doing run-of-the-mill things

Published: 18th September, 2019 at 14:08
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Robots have revolutionised industry, medicine and space travel, but they haven't always had such lofty ideals - here are a few retro robots from history doing everyday tasks.


Vacuum cleaning robot

© Alan Band/Keystone/Getty Images
© Alan Band/Keystone/Getty Images

Who wouldn't want to develop a robot that takes on one of the most arduous tasks when it comes to cleaning the house?


Shaving robot

© Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

We're not entirely sure we'd let this mechanical contraption anywhere near our face, especially with blades in its robotic fingers. Fortunately this particular device is controlled by a human, but still, perhaps we'll just leave this task in the safe hands of a barber.


Cooking robot

© Alan Band/Keystone/Getty Images
© Alan Band/Keystone/Getty Images

Love cooking or hate it, a robot that will rustle up a delicious fajita in the evening for you is a tasty vision of the future we can all tuck in to.


Car cleaning robot

© Central Press/Getty Images
© Central Press/Getty Images

Save a fiver by not getting little Timmy to clean the car - get Tinny to do it instead.


Golf robot

© General Photographic Agency/Getty Images
© General Photographic Agency/Getty Images

Need to improve your swing? Don't waste money on an expensive personal trainer, get this 1920s golf robot to perfect your poise.


Smoking robot

© Imagno/Getty Images
© Imagno/Getty Images

If your robot starts smoking it's usually a sure fire sign that the engine has blown, but not Vocalite, the 1930s robot built to keep you company on your smoking break.


Roger the Robot

© Julian Wasser/Getty Images
© Julian Wasser/Getty Images

Nothing shouts class and sophistication more than your own robotic personal assistant serving you Mojitos by the pool.


Tama the robotic cat

© Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP/Getty Images

Real pets need house training, run up huge vet bills and will hop on the table and eat your dinner the moment you look away. Not Tama though, who will meow when annoyed, purr when stroked, open and close its eyes, move its paws, wag its tail and look cautiously around when it hears a noise.


Coffee drinking robots

© Keystone Features/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Just because you are a robot with no sense of taste, digestive system or capacity for free thought doesn't mean you can't indulge in a nice, hot cup of coffee. Milk and sugar?



© Roger Ressmeyer/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images
© Roger Ressmeyer/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

Let's face it, nobody wants a creepy clown or an granddad masquerading as a magician at a children's party when you could have Topo for entertainment.


Traffic cop robot

© Archive Photos/Getty Images
© Archive Photos/Getty Images

The streets of Mexico can be a nightmare for any but the steeliest of traffic wardens, unless you're actually made of steel...


NUTRO, the 'World's First Nutrition-Teaching Robot'

© Bettmann/Getty Images
© Bettmann/Getty Images

Robots don't eat food, which makes them something of a bizarre choice to teach children about the benefits of a balanced diet, which is probably why NUTRO is still the world's only nutrition-teaching robot.


Rocking robot

© Keystone-FranceGamma-Rapho via Getty Images
© Keystone-France\Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Are you ready to rock? We were back in 1954, with this steel shredder looking to give Jimi Hendrix a run for its money (ok, maybe not). We imagine it would have sounded something like this.

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Alexander McNamaraOnline Editor, BBC Science Focus

Alexander is the former Online Editor at BBC Science Focus.


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