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10 Cutting-Edge Robots That Are Truly Terrifying

by Jonathan Hastad
fact checked by Rachel Jones

Robots can be helpful—there’s no doubt about that. But thanks to Isaac Asimov, we also know they can be incredibly spooky. It might sound like the stuff of science fiction, but there are some cutting-edge robots out there that will really send shivers down your spine. From lifelike humanoids to bizarre and unsettling creations, here are ten robots that will make you question the future of technology.

Related: 10 Films Where Robots Secretly Taught Us About Life

10 Diego-san: The Uncanny Infant


If you thought robots were just cool pieces of tech, think again. Meet Diego-san, the cutting-edge robot that will give you chills. This humanoid robot, developed by researchers at the University of California, San Diego, is impressive and a little eerie.

Diego-san stands at an unsettling 4 feet (1.2 meters) tall, with a strikingly human-like appearance. Its lifelike facial expressions are courtesy of its 27 moving parts, allowing Diego-san to smile, frown, and even raise their eyebrows. But its highly advanced sensory capabilities set it apart from your run-of-the-mill robots. Diego-san uses cameras for vision and pressure sensors in its fingers. These sensors enable it to pick up objects with impressive skill, mimicking our movements with astonishing accuracy.

But Diego-san has a real purpose. It helps researchers study child development. Its lifelike appearance and ability to mimic human facial expressions make it a valuable tool for understanding how children perceive and interact with the world around them. So, while it might be unsettling at first glance, Diego-san is, in fact, a crucial piece of technology. It will help us understand the mysteries of human cognition and behavior.

9 iCub: The Crawler

iCub Crawling Robot Baby

In cutting-edge robotics, few creations are as bizarre and intriguing as the iCub. This remarkable robot mimics the movements and appearance of a crawling baby. It blurs the line between cute and downright terrifying.

iCub is a marvel of engineering and robotics with sensors, artificial intelligence, and lifelike aesthetics. Creators tried to replicate the natural movements of an infant, and they’ve succeeded. It can crawl, roll over, and even make baby-like cooing sounds. The skin is made from a unique silicone material with a fairly realistic texture. It also has unusually expressive eyes.

iCub is unique from other robots because it can learn and adapt. It uses machine learning algorithms to analyze its environment, making it capable of navigating obstacles and learning from its mistakes. However, this adaptability raises ethical questions about the potential for misuse or invasion of privacy.

8 MIT Mini Cheetah: A Terrifyingly Impressive Robot

Backflipping MIT Mini Cheetah

Okay, so the MIT Mini Cheetah isn’t here to haunt your dreams. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t just as freaky as the rest of the bunch. And it’s here to revolutionize the world of robotics.

At just 20 inches (50.8 centimeters) tall and weighing around 20 pounds, the Mini Cheetah might look cute. However, this quadrupedal robot is a true powerhouse. It has an impressive range of motion, allowing it to execute acrobatic flips, somersaults, and even backflips.

Hear me out. Would you want to see this robot cartwheeling toward you? I wouldn’t.

One of the most remarkable aspects of the Mini Cheetah is its versatility. Researchers at MIT have designed it to be highly modular, meaning you can easily customize it for various tasks. From surveillance and search-and-rescue missions to delivering packages or just performing jaw-dropping stunts, this robot can do it all.

Where it’s really making waves is with its agility and speed. It can sprint at an impressive 5.5 miles per hour, making it one of the fastest robots of its kind. Its potential applications are endless, but they also raise questions about whether robots this agile should exist.

7 Handle: The Jumper

Introducing Handle

Handle is a robot developed by Boston Dynamics. And this one isn’t just terrifying; it’s downright awe-inspiring. This is the perfect example of what modern robotics can achieve on two wheels.

Handle stands out with its unique design that combines wheels with legs, allowing it to zip around at speeds of up to 9 miles per hour, which is pretty darn fast for a robot. But what’s truly mind-blowing is its ability to jump up to 1.2 meters in the air. It can even perform somersaults. This robot can leap over obstacles and execute acrobatic stunts.

This robot isn’t just for show, though. Handle can do heavy lifting and material handling tasks. Its impressive range of motion enables it to easily lift objects weighing up to 100 pounds, making it a potential game-changer in industries like warehouses and logistics.

6 PETMAN: The Creepy Humanoid

Despite how it sounds, PETMAN is not a superhero dog. It’s one of the most spine-tingling creations in the world of robotics. Boston Dynamics developed it—the same folks who brought you the creepy-cool Handle. PETMAN stands for “Protection Ensemble Test Mannequin.” And it lives up to its name, serving as a test subject for chemical and biological protective clothing.

Yes, it’s useful. But PETMAN is just a little too human for comfort. Standing about 6 feet (1.8 meters) tall and equipped with sensors and hydraulics, PETMAN can precisely replicate human movements. It walks, runs, squats, and even does push-ups, just like a real person. Watching it go through its paces, you can’t help but feel like you’re witnessing a scene from iRobot.

But the eerie factor doesn’t stop at its lifelike movements. PETMAN also has a soft, lifelike outer shell that simulates human skin to test how protective clothing interacts with the human body. Imagine a robot that looks like it could blend right into a crowd!

5 SpotMini: The Silent Stalker

Introducing Spot (previously SpotMini)

What if man’s best friend was made of metal? Introducing SpotMini. It was developed by… you guessed it. Boston Dynamics! SpotMini is a four-legged robot that pushes the boundaries of what we thought machines could do.

SpotMini really resembles a dog. It is about 3 feet (0.9 meters) tall and has sleek yellow panels and a robotic head. But it’s not just about looks. SpotMini can easily navigate complex environments thanks to its advanced sensors and cameras. It can climb stairs, jump over obstacles, and even dance. Its movements are so lifelike that it’s hard not to be creeped out by its dexterity.

SpotMini uses a detachable arm to perform various tasks, like opening doors, picking up objects, and even turning handles. This versatility makes it a game-changer in the construction, search and rescue, and security industries.

So even though it’s a bit unsettling, we only have one thing to say. Good boy, SpotMini.

4 Actroid: The Android Actress


Stand aside, Jennifer Aniston. There’s a new Hollywood Starlet in town… sort of. Actroid is ready for a close-up. Kokoro Company Ltd. developed Actroid in Japan. It walks and talks like a person with artificial intelligence, all with an ultra-realistic appearance.

Various applications, from medical training to entertainment, can use Actroid. Its human-like qualities create an immersive experience for all who interact with it. However, some people find the level of realism a bit too close for comfort, bordering on the creepy. It has a silicone skin that mimics the texture and elasticity of human skin. When you see Actroid up close, it’s hard to believe you’re not looking at a real person. Its facial expressions, blinking eyes, and subtle movements are incredibly convincing.

3 Kodomoroid: The Talking Android

Kodomoroid Android Demonstration

If you thought the future of robotics was all about friendly, helpful machines, think again. Meet Kodomoroid, a cutting-edge robot developed by Hiroshi Ishiguro Laboratory in Japan. It’s another humanoid child android. Its name is a blend of “kodomo” (child) and “android.”

Standing over 4 feet (1.2 meters) tall, Kodomoroid boasts a lifelike appearance, with hair and expressive facial features. But what sets this robot apart is its ability to speak fluently in multiple languages, recite news articles, and even deliver Shakespearean sonnets with remarkable clarity and expression.

Behind Kodomoroid’s astonishing capabilities lies a sophisticated vocal tract and a complex system of motors and sensors. This type of tech enables it to mimic human speech and gestures with a degree of realism. Kodomoroids love to interact with visitors at museums and exhibits.

2 SociBot: The Social Robot

Enter SociBot: a groundbreaking creation that’s turning heads and raising eyebrows across the tech world. It has the ability to read and respond to human emotions. Designed by the brilliant minds at Engineered Arts, SociBot boasts state-of-the-art facial recognition technology. It can identify individual faces in a crowd, allowing personalized interactions. With its expressive face and lifelike movements, it’s easy to forget you’re not talking to a real person.

But SociBot can do more than recognize faces. AI algorithms enable it to actually decipher emotions. Yes, you read that right! This robot can pick up on your happiness, sadness, anger, or boredom, adapting its responses accordingly. SociBot’s potential applications are vast and varied. From customer service to therapy sessions, this marvel of technology will revolutionize how we interact with machines. Imagine entering a store and being greeted by a friendly, empathetic robot or having a virtual therapist there to lend an understanding ear.

1 Telenoid R1: The Ghostly Presence

Do You Know What a Telenoid is? | The Big Idea

The Telenoid R1 is not your typical robot. Hiroshi Ishiguro and his team at Osaka University in Japan designed it to be a minimalist, human-like communication device. Standing under 2 feet (61 centimeters) tall, the Telenoid R1 has a pale, featureless face reminiscent of a ghost. Its body is also minimalistic, with simple limbs and a soft, skin-like exterior. But don’t be fooled by its appearance. This robot is packed with advanced technology.

The Telenoid R1 has a speaker, microphone, and camera, allowing it to transmit and receive audio and video signals. It serves as a remote communication device, allowing people to interact with others from a distance in a more human-like way. When you speak to someone through the Telenoid R1, its movements and expressions mimic your own, making it feel like you’re talking to a virtual representation of the person on the other end.

fact checked by Rachel Jones