This robot may be "boss," but apparently DARPA has decided it's not the future of the US Military. Their loss!
It's 2004 and I still don't have a goddamn robot butler. Countless 1980 science fiction movies starring poofy haired Italian men taught me that this decade would truly be one to remember, a mystical post-apocalyptic wasteland full of roving mutants and circular cars which emitted a seemingly endless array of grating beeping sounds whenever they attempted to do anything whatsoever.
Despite these exciting predictions, I still don't have even the most simple robot doing jack shit in my house. I have two cats who throw up randomly and apparently possess shrieking infants inside their throats which attempt to escape through their vocal cords, and I own two dogs which have refused the Atkins diet and instead decided to adopt the "wooden railing and other dogs' poop" diet. Please note that there are absolutely no robots in that list, and if you don't believe me than feel free to read the sentence again, solemnly nodding your head afterwards. I secretly added a subliminal message to that line convincing everybody to purchase a SA license plate frame, so maybe you should keep reading it over and over until you decide to click this link and purchase one. If you refuse to buy one, then I shall protest your actions by continuing to sit in this chair and masturbate all day, which is basically what Gandhi did.
Fortunately, CNN has come through in the clutch and delivered an explanation as to why our dreams of a robot slave filled society have failed to materialize just yet. Apparently there was some contest in California where obese men waddled into the desert and competed against other obese men in an amateur robot race demonstrating the boundless creativity and ingenuity of the American spirit responsible for making our country the unstoppable powerhouse and global leader it is today. Naturally, every single goddamn robot broke down.
Robots fail to complete Grand Challenge - Nobody won. Nobody even came close. But that didn't stop organizers of the DARPA Grand Challenge from declaring an unusual race across the Mojave Desert a spirited success. "We are an agency that takes risks, to push technology beyond what anybody thinks is possible," said Tom Strat, deputy program manager of the DARPA Grand Challenge. "Even though nobody got more than about 5 percent of the way through the course, this has made these engineers even more determined," he said. DARPA, the secretive Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is best known for helping foster the Internet.
Oh yeah Tom, that sounds like an absolutely astounding success! You held a contest where robots competed to travel 150 miles and a minority of them were able to travel 13 feet without catching fire and burying themselves in a shallow robotic grave. What a tremendous achievement! Maybe next year you DARPA folks can challenge folks to construct a ship that will travel to the moon, and when the winner turns out to be a 10-year old child who tied a Bratz figurine to a handful of bottle rockets, you can claim the contest was infinitely more triumphant than you could have ever imagined in your wildest erotic dreams of contests.
I guess the most positive aspect of this failed desert challenge revolves around the fact that not a single person witnessing it was murdered by a rogue robotic assassin hellbent on destroying its cruel, overweight tormentors, a statistic which I'm sure will change next year. Did any of you ever see the movie "ROTOR"? It was a wonderful documentary portraying the potential horrors which accompany the field of robotic study, most importantly the dangers inherent to producing robotic Texan police officers who ride motorcycles and can travel through time by using a feature entitled "Sensor Recall" which grants them the ability to view certain scenes of the movie through the perspective of an inexperienced cameraman.
So what went wrong with the 15 brave teams of robotic contenders? How could every single contestant fail to travel even 5% of the course, even when the contest sponsors offered a million-dollar jackpot which could be used to purchase several accurate replicas of the USS Enterprise? Additionally, what the hell constitutes a "spirited success?" Does that mean a bunch of ghosts or Jesus flew in and helped push their crappy robots in the general direction of the finish line? Lets take a look at a few of the finalists to see exactly what went wrong and how these fat, fat, fat heroic engineers can address such problems so next year's robotic race doesn't turn into another miserable failure / "spirited success":
There's a squeegee for car windows in there somewhere.
CONTESTANT #2Vicki throws governor Jesse "The Governor" Ventura to the couch which I assume she picks up and begins to spin around later in the episode.
NAME: "VonBot 2000"
METHOD OF TRANSPORTATION: Small robotic homeless Mexican pushing while constantly emitting a series of foreign swear words and attempting to swat away the invisible hornets swarming around him.
TOTAL DISTANCE TRAVELED IN RACE: 14 inches.
ROBOT DESCRIPTION: The VonBot 2000 was developed by a leading team of budding engineers from southern California who stumbled upon one of the most powerful untapped energy sources in the world: disheveled homeless Mexican immigrants pushing shopping carts to vague, usually non-existent locations. The VonBot 2000 was modeled after an authentic Mexican named "Horatio" in Orange County who boasts the ability to walk around with his shopping cart 24 hours a day, stopping only to place random items in his cart or to take them out depending on the phase of the moon. This robotic pushing engine is capable of shoving a cart weighing up to 300 pounds, just as long as a majority of those 300 pounds are cardboard signs and carpet samples.
WHAT WENT WRONG: Shortly after being placed on the starting line, the VonBot 2000 took off in the opposite direction and walked into the sunset. Apparently the engineers did such a perfect job emulating the stereotypical homeless Mexican immigrant that the robot immediately sought out the closest 24-hour donut shop in Santa Ana. It can now be spotted at the donut store on the corner of Bristol and 7th Street, staring at passing cars and kicking an empty Big Gulp cup.
CONTESTANT #7The Molestinator gets off to a great start.
METHOD OF TRANSPORTATION: Two legs adorned with 50-inch long white frilly stockings.
DISTANCE TRAVELED IN RACE: Three miles.
ROBOT DESCRIPTION: Vicki developed a powerful fan base by appearing in the smash hit 1980s sitcom "Small Wonder," a heartwarming and touching story about a middle aged man who decided to build a robotic teenage girl slave to fulfill his every whim, no matter how disgusting, vile, or twisted they may be. Vicki was able to accomplish tremendously exciting feats that only an advanced cybernetic creature could perform, such as lifting a couch with one hand. She literally did this every single episode of the show, often without any provocation or explanation whatsoever. The family would just be sitting on the couch and watching TV, and then bam, they're all lifted above Vicki's head as she effortlessly twirled the couch around until a SWAT team busted through the front door and downed her with a barrage of armor piercing rounds. Seriously, every time I watched this show there would be some implausible, convoluted reason for Vicki to grab the couch and start spinning around like an autistic weightlifter. I think this entire show was just an excuse for television producers to research the effect of vigorous sofa rotation on the American public.
WHAT WENT WRONG: DARPA made an unfortunate choice by positioning their little robot race near the Palm Winds Mall, home of Bennigan's Home Furnishings Outlet. As you read this, Vicki continues to rapidly rotate a Verona leather sofa collection while police officials are camped outside the parking lot, attempting to negotiate the release of store hostages. Creator Ted Lawson was contacted by the chief of police, but was unable to assist them from his jail cell where he is serving 14 years for distributing a series of photos over the Internet showing Vicki peeing on his face.
NAME: "The Molestinator"
METHOD OF TRANSPORTATION: Wheels which don't necessarily roll in the same direction, if at all.
DISTANCE TRAVELED IN RACE: Four miles.
ROBOT DESCRIPTION: As one of the most dapper and intelligent robotic creations currently in production, the Molestinator is known far and wide for his incredible ability to not only catch fire for no reason, but also go backwards when you really want him to go forward. This creation sports two inflatable wheels manufactured from the same plastics used to produce swimming floats, a bow tie which can spin clockwise for a few rotations before the servo motor combusts and ignites, a very convincing and realistic hairpiece which would look very convincing and realistic if it wasn't for the fact that it is neither convincing nor realistic, and a single arm with a gloved hand that cannot grip objects or perform maneuvers more complex than "falling off and being dragged behind in the mud for miles."
WHAT WENT WRONG: While the Molestinator can be adapted to perform virtually any task (just as long as it somehow revolves around falling into a hay loft), Team Leapin' Leprechaun had a difficult experience converting him into a racing robot. One of the biggest obstacles they had to overcome was the Molestinator's tendency to not move unless he is on top of a very steep incline and somebody physically shoves him. When interviewed, Team Leapin' Leprechaun admitted they couldn't remember the original purpose for which the Molestinator was created, but they were "almost completely certain" that it wasn't racing. One of their members guessed it might've had something to do with scaring stray cats out of drainage pipes. Experts are unsure as to how the Molestinator was accepted into the final 15 robots, but DARPA documents revealed interest in it due to the potential military uses of converting the Molestinator into an urban warfare vehicle. It was later discovered there was a typo in the DARPA documents and the Molestinator was planned to be an "urban welfare vehicle" which would presumably scare unemployed people into either getting a job or never, ever, ever leaving their homes.
After Team Leapin' Leprechaun unpacked the Molestinator from the garbage bags in the back of their Chevy Tahoe, they spent a good 20 minutes assembling him with duct tape provided by the judges. The engineering team claimed his conversion to "racing mode" was complete once he was adorned with a "Type R" sticker and red sweatband.
The Molestinator was dragged to the racing gate with a complex series of levers and pulleys that were used to beat somebody into submission until they agreed to roll him over to the designated starting point. Once there, the Molestinator began to hit on rival robot contestant #11, "The Turbo Litterbox." He was almost disqualified for his saucy remarks such as "HONK HONK, I reckon you and I should get jiggy with it under the sheets, baby!" and "HONK HONK, how about a roll in the hay with a Caribbean Queen? HONK!" One of the judges threatened to throw out Team Leapin' Leprechaun after the Molestinator approached his wife and used his one semi-functioning arm to fondle her breasts. Due to his faulty aiming system, his hand fell into a nearby charcoal grill as he shrieked in pain and activated his defense mechanism, a jar of expired mustard launched at the nearest threatening wall.
Once the race began, the Molestinator continued to sit on the starting line and hit on rival robots, unaware of the fact that they had all left over half an hour ago. Team Leapin' Leprechaun convinced him to flee in the general direction of the finish line by throwing confetti at him and blowing a slide whistle, two things the Molestinator fears the most. He immediately went off course due to a faulty positioning system that made him believe he was racing in 1960s Uzbekistan. When he failed to track down Leonid I. Brezhnev, he promptly self destructed by colliding with a barber pole at speeds up to two miles an hour.
Well it seems that this little robot race was a colossal failure despite the fact that it was a spirited success. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the contestants in next year's DARPA robot challenge, assuming they can scrounge together enough Lite Brite parts to create another spectacularly malfunctioning robot. In the meantime, somebody please convince Better Homes and Gardens Magazine to hold a contest challenging people to build the best robot butler. I've got this pulsating mound of rancid sweatsocks amassing in the back of my closet, and I'm strongly considering calling in the team of STARS from Raccoon City to deal with it.
This space-age device is a cardboard box with two holes in it. The operative sticks a hand in one end. The contact inserts a hand in the other end. With both hands shielded from prying eyes, a secret handshake can commence.
I'm ruined. Every dream in my life has been dashed. Fantastic product! Would buy again!
The Something Awful front page news tackles anything both off and on the Internet. Mostly "on" though, as we're all incredible nerds.