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Friday, July 21, 2006


Many science fiction writers have invented scenarios in which robots become killing machines. The first actual robot homicide in the U.S., however, occurred 12 years ago on July 21, 1984. A robot in Jackson, Mississippi turned and caught a worker between it and a safety bar, crushing him. The worker died of his injuries several days later.

While robots are quite safe most of the time, they have intrigued people for generations. According to Wikipedia, the word “robot” comes from the Czech word “robata,” which means “industrial labor.” It was first used in a play by sci-fi writer Karel ńĆapek in 1921. The humanoid, intelligent robots envisioned by writers have yet to be completely realized; the designs used for work are generally known as “3-D” - “dull, dirty or dangerous.” Such robots are found in auto production, bomb disposal, nuclear waste disposal and other environments.

There are also domestic robots that can vacuum the house or mow the lawn, and even companion robots, such as Aibo, a pet dog, Paro, a baby seal intended for use in hospitals or nursing homes, and Wakamaru, a humanoid robot also used in nursing homes.

The popularity of robots is reflected in the number of both fiction and non-fiction books the Fairfax County Public Library owns on the topic. We have 54 adult fiction novels, plus books on the design and construction of robots; robot control systems; industrial robots; programming robots and more. Check out:


Robots by Jack Dann
Old Soldiers by David Weber
The Amphora Project by William Kozwinkle
Pet Peeve by Piers Anthony
Metallic Love by Tanith Lee


Robots: From Science Fiction to Technological Revolution by Daniel Ichbiah
Edison’s Eve: A Magical History of the Quest for Mechanical Life by Gaby Wood
Gear Heads: The Turbulent Rise of Robotic Sports by Brad Stone
Junkbots, Bugbots and Bots on Wheels: Building Simple Robots by Dave Hrynkiw

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