Robot Fails: These 8 Robots Aren't Going to Destroy Humanity Just Yet

Killer robots might be a real threat, but the field of robotics still has a long way to go.
Chris Young
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Long gone are the days when talk of the existential threat of robots was confined to science fiction. Killer robots are a real worry today. So much so that thousands of academics, scientists, and engineers have signed a petition as part of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots.

Thankfully, we still have time to make a change by putting laws in place that will prevent governments from developing these technologies unchecked.

Why, you might ask? Robots are a long way from being the Skynet monstrosities we see in the movies. Here are a few robot fails to prove our point.


1. Robot-Bambi on ice

Boston Dynamics creates some pretty incredible robots. Their Atlas and Spot robots can perform athletic maneuvers and climb tricky terrain. That doesn't mean they're impervious to a gaffe or two.

If Skynet and Terminator robots do become a reality they will need to be able to stack a shelf before falling over before they can be considered a real threat. As can be seen in the video above, Boston Dynamics' Atlas robot wasn't quite up to the task at the time of filming.

The same robot also suffered an onstage whoopsie when it finished a demo at The Congress of Future Scientists and Technologists by tripping over a stage light, falling into a curtain and offstage in comical effect.

2. "It went perfectly in rehearsals" 

Like a trained dog that does brilliantly in rehearsals and then decides to roll onto its stomach for scratches when the audience is watching, Boston Dynamics' other robot, Spot has also had a major fail live on stage.

The robot had a leg malfunction that caused it to spin around and fall over. The robot is now on sale for select businesses, so the developers seem to have fixed the problem.

3. Ok, I will destroy humans

Perhaps the robot version of 2019 meme sensation "ok, boomer" should be "ok, I will destroy humans." That's what Sofia the AI talking robot said when asked if she would destroy humans during an interview.

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This is more of a voice command malfunction than any proof of real malicious intent from this impressive but early AI model.


Thankfully it made its way onto the fails list rather than the list of times AI made real vocal threats to humanity — probably coming sometime after 2030. 

4. Pineapple robot?

Speaking of memes, this robot might have been inspired by the pineapple pen meme from 2016. Instead of cleverly sticking a pineapple and a pen together, this robot creator stuck wheels onto a pineapple.

Pineapple robot fail from r/shittyrobots

It seems fruit doesn't make a great structure for robots though, as the robot doesn't get very far on its wheels.

5. Making children cry

It's almost that time of the year: Star Wars release day. Oh and Christmas too. This shopping mall Star Wars act ended in disaster when an animatronic R2-D2 was unveiled before it wheeled its way crashing off stage.

In the movies, R2-D2 would probably chirp and make beeping sounds. In reality, the robot was smashed to pieces, leading to gasps from the audience. Baby Yoda wouldn't be happy at all.

6. Teabot won't be taking your job

This is probably the most British robot design ever imaginable. Not only because it is made to stir tea, but also because it looks like an extremely redundant and complex Wallace and Gromit-style contraption. 

Another useful contraption could perform the exact same task much more efficiently and in a fraction of the time: the human hand.

TeaBot, the tea mixer. from r/shittyrobots

We must give this robot designer credit, however for making the robo-equivalent of a marble run.

7. Watch these robots try to ski

Last year, a robot competition, the Ski Robot Competition, was held just outside Pyeongchang. The rules stated that the best skiing robot designer would go home with $10,000. Eye-tracking was used to have the robots avoid and steer around the red flags. 

Most of the ski bots had a very difficult time avoiding the flags. Others had a hard time getting to the finish line at all.

8. A highly ineffective Robocop

Just over a month ago, news broke about how a woman went to a Knightscope police robot asking for help after she saw a fight break out and was told repeatedly by the robot to "get out of the way."


Robot Fails: These 8 Robots Aren't Going to Destroy Humanity Just Yet
Source: CBS47/YouTube

Though the large letters saying "POLICE" on the robot's body suggest that it might be able to take some kind of action, the incident showed the public that these robots are essentially powerful moving CCTV cameras. They still have a long way to go.

Bonus: Would you like some fire with that salad?

This one goes in the bonus spot, as it isn't a real malfunction, but rather an acted one by YouTube channel that purposefully makes malfunctioning robots.

This salad tossing robot literally tosses or throws a salad across the room. It also sets a salad on fire before its owner, placing the sizzling bowl on a table. It all goes to show that the threat of robots isn't to be taken too seriously — yet.

Nevertheless, the development of dangerous robot weapons and AI drones is a topic that deserves to be seriously discussed and is not one that should be thrown out by world governments.

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