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Smile Generating Robots Week

Movies can be magical, and robot movies doubly so. I watched my 93 year-old father smile for the first time in a week, captivated by the antics of BB-8 in Star Wars: The Force Awakens playing on the TV set above his hospital bed. I couldn’t help but smile at BB-8 myself, despite my annoyance at the less-than-awe-inspiring reboot of the franchise. I realized that for every Terminator or Ex Machina evil robot, there is a Baymax robot who just looks so imaginative and delightful that it is impossible not to smile, no matter what’s going on with the rest of the movie. This week we will count down the top 5 movie robots that should make anyone, any age, smile. We will start the week with first place (as the first sentence was a spoiler).

Star Wars: The Force Awakens didn’t make much progress in overcoming the widely-held Patton Oswalt sentiment that someone should have gone back in time to stop George Lucas. But on the plus side, it did introduce BB-8, R2D2’s more emotive successor. Every move that BB-8 makes is delightful, both slapstick funny and inducing “whoa, what a cool effect!” Unfortunately, BB-8 isn’t even vaguely realistic; if you had any doubt about that, see the Science Robotics article discussing its fanciful locomotion and the accompanying humorous video where scientists illustrate why BB-8 wouldn’t do well on all those desert planets in the Star Wars universe. Who cares? BB-8 brings on the smiles!

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