I, Robot, meet You, Tube
As technology develops, what first started as experimental becomes practical, what was once prohibitively expensive becomes commonplace, and what seems like science-fiction becomes true to life.
In the case of robots, what was once novel can become downright freaky.
We put together a few of our favorite robot videos to see how far the sci-fi staples have come. Should we go grab John Connor, or rest easy for now? And might these automatons even help us one day?
Watch the robots in action on the pages that follow, and decide for yourself.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), created by the US government to develop groundbreaking tech for the Department of Defense, hosts its own competition to spur development of autonomous machines.
Each team builds a robot that can maneuver and operate in a person's stead - the goal being to one day have them go where humans can't tread, such as space or a breached radioactive plant - having the mechs get in and out of cars, open doors, operate power tools, and climb stairs.
Since each team's design is different, one droid that can turn valves painlessly could fall flat on its face dismounting from a stairwell, and vice versa. If nothing else, watching the entire thing is rife with robot pratfalls, a brand of comedy unique to the 21st century.
Sit, stand and defy your human masters
NAO robots, which are programmable robots built by Aldebaran Robotics, can pull of a number of tricks that range from participating in a soccer league to playing Tic-Tac-Toe.
However, in this demonstration, a NAO robot also demonstrates more human qualities like self-preservation and trust. When given orders to walk off an edge, the robot adorably refuses until the human promises to catch it.
While this is pretty much a case of "I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that," the tiny squeal the NAO makes at the end was cute enough to make us forget all about how we just saw a robot capable of defiance. What could go wrong?
Santa's cyber-reindeer give us a seasonal scare
Boston Dynamics, the engineering firm purchased by Google that's known for its quadruped robots, showed off some holiday cheer last year in what we can only describe as "fearfully festive."
The company posted its own homage to Jolly Saint Nick, pulling along the iconic red sled, complete with the entourage of reindeer - an entourage comprised of headless, unfeeling, cybernetic reindeer, that is.
We can't tell what makes this weirder: the use of cutting-edge military technology to make the video equivalent of a Christmas card, or the fact that the tinsel and strapped-on antlers really take the edge off the Metal Gear-esque design.
Wet your whistle with these robot bartenders
As the human race veers closer to mastering robotics, the age-old question still remains: "Can it whip up a Long Island Iced Tea?"
Enter the Bionic Bar, an attraction found on The Quantum of the Seas, Royal Caribbean's high-tech luxury cruise ship. The mechanical barkeeps can take drink orders and prepare them with old-fashioned flair and new-fashioned precision.
In fact, according to Alessandro Incisa, project manager for the company behind the Bionic Bar, the metallic mixologists are actually choreographed by professional dancers for smooth, graceful motion.
This was done to eliminate the sudden movements, "humanizing" the drink ordering process while ensuring your Martini doesn't get shaken when you asked for it stirred.
The walking, working robot is steady as a rock
Boston Dynamics is back at it again, this time with Atlas, a working-class droid built to handle labor tasks with an incredible grasp on its surroundings.
Able to walk upright on snow, gravel and ice, Atlas' impressive mobility is matched only by its ability to self-correct. As the Boston Dynamics staff poke, prod and push Atlas, it readjusts its balance almost instantly and picks up right where it left off.
We wish we had Atlas' patience when it comes to people meddling with its work, but we hope it never becomes sentient. If it does, it may wind up holding a grudge against that guy who kept jabbing it with a stick, and seek its revenge.
This face is 'uncanny valley' to the max
Humans are pretty good at identifying what is and isn't human. However, as the line between human/not human becomes blurred, your brain tends to get really uncomfortable.
That uncomfortable feeling comes full force this demonstration of a Hanson Robotics' attempt at giving a machine a realistic face.
Nicknamed "Hans," the robot can read and convey a wide range of expressions, from joy to drunk. The idea is to have Hans provided care for people in assisted living who prefer seeing a person in place of a computer. That said, just take a look at Hans in action...
Watch MIT's cheetah bot catch some air
Just when you thought the secret to outsmarting the rise of Skynet was to outrun it, along comes MIT and its running, robotic cheetah.
Created by engineers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology with the support of DARPA, the robo-feline can run up to 5mph.
Though it doesn't match the top speed of its biological counterpart, the robo-cheetah is the first robot capable of autonomously performing a running jump.
At this point, it's only a matter of time before the creation of a new event in the DARPA Robotics Competition - the 110m Intermediate Robo-Hurdles.
You can build your own breakfast machine!
Having an entire fleet of mechanical engineers is nice and all, but what of the hobbyist looking to get into the robotics game in the comfort of their own home?
Enter Simone Giertz, who built and programmed her own machine using a store-bought uArm to help with the most important meal of the day. How did the field test turn out? See for yourself below.
While the final results are less than ideal, the result is hilarious and can be replicated by anyone with some time to spare and the right materials. You can even follow Giertz's design down to the letter - No DARPA fbacking required!