Here at EIT, we love a good movie that pushes the envelope of innovation, and no genre does it better than Science Fiction. Theoretically, a lot of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in cinematic adventures could be plausible, and in fact, this list of five AI creations do have counterparts in the real world that could easily slip into similar cinematic roles.
Fictional AI: Waste Allocation Load-Lifter: Earth-class
There’s no denying Pixar’s WALL-E is one of the most loveable robotic creations ever, but he has a lot of purposes too. WALL-E is left on earth after human consumerism took its toll, and as a trash compactor, he is set to clean the earth – all by himself.
While WALL-E is a curious little robot that also tries to find meaning behind everything he collects, he is also diligent with his task to clear the world of waste. The loved film has given popularity to non-verbal Robotica where their design becomes part of a personality.
Although current robotics can’t mimic WALL-E’s courage or charisma, it can use him as inspiration.
Real-world counterpart: KRABB-E
Designed by students as part of a competition, in 2019 British beaches were introduced to KRABB-E, a crab-like robot that scours beaches to pick up discarded cigarette butts.
With a compactor-like design where the claws of the robot can sift through sand to pick up trash, the robot is equipped to determine the weight of objects, and as a result, will leave behind stones but store polluting butts in his compactor.
His camera eyes mean that he will avoid obstacles and he also has a little speaker to let beach-goers know when he is around to help save marine life.
Fictional AI: Astroship XB982
An all-knowing vehicle for interspace travel might not be a reality yet, but the Astroship XB982 is a good representation of a somewhat self-aware vessel that serves its occupants and pilot. Unlike many space travel vehicles in the film, the Astroship XB982 isn’t an artillery vehicle set to blow up stars and other spacecraft.
Instead, it is a comfortable craft that aids Valerian in missions of interspace travel. From climate control rooms to providing on-the-spot information, Astroship XB982 is much more than a vessel it is a helpful vehicle in all aspects with safe travel as a core function.
Real-world counterpart: Tesla
Tesla vehicles have a lot going for them, but most importantly they can self-drive and give occupants and other road users a lot of information to ensure safety and functionality. Drivers can have the best seat in town thanks to the generous entertainment system that allows you to stay entertained while driving. Its futuristic inputs are still auto parking and lane changing, as well as a bevy of navigational tools. The large center console screen also allows you to put up messages when the car is not in use.
For instance, you can keep the air conditioning running during a hot day, and leave your pet inside if you quickly need to run into the shop. You can leave the screen on with a message for concerned bystanders on the wellbeing of your pet, and let them know Fido is in a climate-controlled environment.
Fictional AI: Autochef
This spin-off series of Wallace and Gromit shorts explores Wallace’s insane inventions, but a special mention needs to be made for the episode featuring 'The Autochef'. The chef-like robot is only the third ever speaking role in the 25 years of Wallace and Gromit.
The robot is meant to be the perfect kitchen aid that assists in cooking breakfast for the two – even though the results aren’t as desired. The AI character is still noteworthy for its intent and programming.
Real-world counterpart: Deco-Bot
In the automated cake decorating industry the Deco-Bot Robotic Decorating Machine offers patisseries, bakers, restaurants and shops the opportunity to design cake decorations and bring them to life hassle-free. Deco-Bot Robotic Decorating Machine is produced by Unifiller Systems a leader in food manufacturing and decorating automation.
Launched in 2016 the Deco-Bot can automatically apply decorations like buttercream roses on cakes, among its many preset designs. The Deco-Bot robot likes to write, drizzle and give finishing flourish to cakes and cupcakes when a variety of nozzles are installed on the machine. Wallace would be very excited to have a Deco-Bot decorated cake with his afternoon tea.
Fictional AI: C-3PO
Dry humor and AI wit are personified in the golden shell of C-3PO, the plucky robot from the Star Wars Universe. Programmed as a protocol droid, C-3PO is a master of language, etiquette and helpful in most situations – even just as a sidekick.
His humanoid design and somewhat friendly face might be expressionless and robotic, but he aims to always get the job done, especially when it comes to assisting the humans and other lifeforms he comes in contact with.
Since C-3PO’s introduction in 1977, it’s hard to imagine Star Wars without is cracking humour and observations on different situations.
Real-life counterpart: Sophia the Robot
Sophia the Robot has a comedy writer employed at Hanson Robotics, the company behind Sophia, to come up with her jokes and deadpan delivery, much like C-3PO. But the similarities do not end there. Hanson Robotics believes Sophia is the personification of AI’s future that offers advanced AI and robotics research but also explores the human-robot experience.
She has been such a success she’s become a pseudo-celebrity making appearances on TV and even addressing members at the UN, ITU, and NATO. Sophia is an advocate for AI research, and she’s ever-evolving. From new facial expressions to new languages and forms of verbal and physical communication, Sophia is a counterpart to humanity.
Fictional AI: ENCOM
Ever wanted to enter the circuit board of your computer? Well, 1982’s Tron provided a riveting fictionalization of what really goes on inside your computer when you press the on button. In the Tron universe, ENCOM was mainly focusing on defense systems, but quickly began focusing more on video games after the amazing success and profits produced by games such as Space Paranoids and Light Cycles.
While Tron combined elements of action-adventure, the Tron program and the world of the fictional ENCOM again show how digital creativity is boundless to create interactive games and experiences.
Real-world counterpart: Nintendo Labo
When launched in 2017 the Nintendo Switch combined the best of handheld gaming consoles with the adaptability to play on larger screens by “switching” from handheld to controller. But in 2018 when launching Labo, Nintendo added another layer to the gaming experience where players had to build and construct their own experience using the controllers to enter a new digital world, right in their living rooms.
Labo, a Nintendo Switch, and Joy-Cons the Nintendo Labo VR Kits include a variety of creations to allow players to fly, go on a safari or shoot a blaster. Labo kits, made with simple cardboard are so advanced that you can make a playable piano, a remote-controlled car, and a variety of interactive items by simply adding your hardware. Budding programmers and designers also have the opportunity to customize the experience with their own creations, almost like entering the console themselves.
Oxford Mail, 2019. A. French. Entrepreneurs design cigarette butt clutching ‘crab’ robots. [online] Available at: https://www. oxfordmail.co.uk/news/17980130.entrepreneurs-design-cigarette-butt-clutching-crab-robot/>
The Engineer, 2019. IET ‘save our seas’ winners tackle ocean plastic and waste. [online] Available at: <https://www. theengineer.co.uk/save-our-seas-iet/>
Tesla, 2020. Model S Long Range Plus: Building the First 400-Mile Electric Vehicle. [online] Available at: https:// tesla.com/blog/model-s-long-range-plus-building-first-400-mile-electric-vehicle [Accessed 28 June]
Unifiller, 2016. Press Release: Unifiller systems pleased to launch the Deco-Bot, a robotic decorator for cake, cookies, cupcakes and pastries. [online] Available at: https://www.unifiller.com/unifiller-systems-is-pleased-to-launch-the-deco-bot-a-robotic-decorator-for-cake-cookies-cupcakes-and-pastries [Accessed on 28 June]
Hanson Robotics, 2020. Sophia 2020: Robots who help people. [online] Available at: https://www.hansonrobotics.com/sophia-2020/ [Accessed on June 27]
Nintendo, 2019. Nintendo Labo™ makes VR gaming fun for the whole family. [online] Available at: https://www.nintendo.com/products/detail/labo-vr-kit/ [Accessed 28 June]
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