This is the third year that I've capped off with a list of the crappiest robots that I can find. It feels a bit different every time thanks to the mood that the year's events have put me in while processing things like flailing motorized dildos stuffed into a Kleenex box.
Which is why this time around is a bit, uh, weird.
Read More: The Shittiest Robots of 2015
Maudlinism isn't a good look, but still, it would feel a bit strange to half-ironically wax poetic about what a shitty robot really means when 2016 has already had more than enough smirking faux-intellectualism. Earnestness without sentimentalism is what's called for in these electrifying and precarious times, I guess, which makes it a bit tough to talk about something so unserious as this.
But, I mean, I love shitty robots! I do. Who doesn't? They're hilarious. And, I think, that's at least part of why this list is still needed at the tail end of 2016. Everybody needs a big 'ol pick-me-up, and since robots don't have a soul or feelings, and can't even die in any typical sense really, I think it's safe to say that we can laugh at them without feeling bad at all. So, that's good, right? Yes, it is.
Read More: The Shittiest Robots of 2014
But we're not just animals hooting in glee at simple violence, right? It's also true that these robots are endearing as heck. This is probably due to properties inherent in the robots to the degree that they lend themselves to anthropomorphic projection, but I think it also has something to do with knowing that an actual real human built this crappy thing. It's all about empathy. People are pretty wild! It really rocks.
THE ROBOT THAT JUST SWEATS
"Kengoro" is a swole robot from the University of Tokyo that does push-ups and sweats. That's pretty much it. He probably doesn't wipe down the bench after, either. Fuck this dude.
THIS TERRIFYING LOW-RENT HOMER SIMPSON RICKSHAW BOT
This year, Motherboard contributor Jamie Fullerton visited the workshop of 54-year-old Wu Yulu, a Chinese man who has build 63 crappy robots that he calls his "children." He's the original robot daddy, and it's a little weird, but whatever, it's still pretty strange and wonderful and gloriously crappy.
But this budget Homer Simpson-looking rickshaw driver, all blank yellow stare and borderline copyright infringement? No thanks.
A BUTT-WIPING ROBOT
It's amateur roboticist Simone Giertz's entire thing to make crappy robots. And this morbid assemblage of power tools and toilet paper gives me the shivers. It would absolutely destroy your butt.
THIS FUCKING GUY
THESE 'REAL' 'TRANSFORMERS' (AKA 'LETRONS', PLEASE DON'T SUE US)
I respect a company that pours resources into turning luxury cars into non-functional transformers. I do. I really do have some joy left in my heart after this oppressive year. But until these things can flip a truck, I will remain disappointed.
ALL THE ROBOTS AT HEBOCON
Hebocon is a competition where the goal is to win a robot battle tournament with the crappiest homemade robot possible. It first roared onto the scene a couple years ago in Japan with the tagline and philosophy "Crappiness trumps strategy," and I've been a fan ever since. Hebocon gives me life.
THE ROBOT THAT DECEIVES YOU WITH COOKIES
This robot gives people cookies. This is a good thing, and I like cookies. It would be very nice if the only robots we made were the kind that gave people cookies. But this robot only gives you cookies because it's running some sort of twisted experiment to see how far you'll go in trusting it. Not cool.
THE ONLY GOOD ROBOT: A DRINKING BUDDY
Me too, pal. On to 2017.