Well, it turns out that I can now give a name to the main instigators of my robo-phobia, and that name is Boston Dynamics. They're the company that makes the Big Dog, and it turns out, they also make a wide variety of deeply unsettling robots that seem to have only creepy and/or military applications.
Here's a selection of some of their insectoid marauders. First, let's start with the Little Dog, which is just like it's bigger brother, except it's nearly silent, smaller and doesn't even have the cover story of acting as a "pack mule":
Next we have the RiSE. Now, I'll admit, this one is not the most terrifying specimen, but it does look like a fucking spider, and spiders are universally despised and feared, so, good design call:
Next comes the RHex, which is, to me, second only to the Big Dog for sheer creepiness. This thing can survive seemingly any impact, and it absolutely will not stop. Add, "until you are dead" to that last sentence and you've pretty much got Reese's speech to Sarah Connor in The Terminator. By the way, the most terrifying part comes when the thing goes into the water.......and fucking swims:
Yeah, and finally we've got a little thing called the SquishBot. This is the thing they're working on right now, so while it sounds like the most horrifying thing in the history of robotics, you can comfort yourself with the knowledge that it only exists.......in theory. Here's how Boston Dynamics describes the little fella:
SquishBot is a program to develop a new class of soft, shape-changing robot. The goal is to design systems that can transform themselves from hard to soft and from soft to hard, upon command. Another goal is to create systems that change their critical dimensions by large amounts, as much as 10x. Such robots will be like soft animals that can squeeze themselves through small openings and into tight places.
Tight places. Tight places. That is one fucking ominous turn of phrase. Picture this thing squeezing itself into your small openings and...tight places. Here's what it looks like:
All right, first off, that looks like the kind of robot that would pop up in a David Cronenberg movie. And not his later ones, like A History of Violence. Nope, I'm talking his Videodrome, Long Live the New Flesh period.
I would not be surprises if the next thing these guys come out with is a M.O.D.O.K.