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6 of the Worst Robots Ever Conceived

Graham Turner


Turns out, the vision of the future presented by The Jetsons was wrong.

The promise of robotics is indeed a lofty one – a tireless worker, a loving child for those who can’t conceive, a problem solver operating almost limitlessly beyond human biomechanical limitations.

Few of these aspirations have thus far been realised. In fact, based on the following – what DIGIT considers to be the worst robots ever dreamt up – we should, as a species, never again attempt to make another robot/abomination.

1 – The Japanese robot child that can feel pain

Worst robots

Last year, scientists in Japan developed a highly realistic looking robot child, named Affetto, which can detect changes in pressure via its synthetic skin, enabling it to ‘feel’ pain.

Affetto is able to feel and distinguish between a light touch or a hard hit and, while this might seem cruel, the team behind the robot said it will help robots to understand and empathise with humans. Or, more likely, help them understand our deep love for hitting things.

Affetto has been equipped with a “pain nervous system” that is powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and custom skin tech that allows it to react to sensations using a variety of facial expressions.

Judging by the image, the scientists appear to have opted to make Affetto’s default expression, ‘smug’ – this is likely to make it easier to deploy the ‘hard hits’ on the robot’s face.

2 – Qoobo

Worst robots

A cushion with a tail that wags when it’s touched. The future is now. The idea behind it is stress relief. Ironically, it may achieve this as it’s so bad you’ll likely laugh the stress away as your cushion pointlessly wiggles in your lap.

Qoobo is a pillow-shaped companion that ‘heals your heart’. Best of all, it only costs roughly £90 more than listening to whale sounds for free on YouTube.

3 – Charmin robot

Worst robots

Ever been in the toilet and thought, ‘man, that paper roll is getting dangerously low. I wish a robot could wheel a new one in here, no questions asked’. Elegant, discreet, effective – not even sure why Charmin is on this list.


4 – Sally the salad robot

For $30,000, you would think Sally would source, plant, cultivate, harvest, clean, mix, dress and serve salads. Alas, nay. Sally does but one of those tasks – mix. That’s right, this is basically a Mr Frosty for rocket. Surely one of the worst robots in a list of worst robots.

5 – Janken

Flexing its ability to read movement cues at a pace that makes humans look frankly pathetic, Janken will beat you at rock, paper, scissors – 100% of the time.

Developed at the Ishikawa Watanabe Laboratory in Tokyo, Janken is able to counter a move one millisecond before a human is able to complete a move.

There’s probably altruistic implications to the technology, but for now, it just feels like it exists to make us feel bad about ourselves.

6 – Box from Logan’s Run

1976 classic (yes, classic), Logan’s Run envisions a future where everyone has to die at age 30. The supercomputer that runs society also deems that the existence of Box – a robot that keeps ‘runners’ frozen in ice naked, essential.

Graham Turner

Sub Editor

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