October 24, 2012, 12:57 PM — The Robot Hall of Fame in Pittsburgh inducted four new members on Tuesday, but the real news -- at least in my opinion -- is the continued snubbing of a small-screen legend: Robot B-9 of the 1960s television show Lost in Space.
The Hall of Fame was created in 2003 by the folks at Carnegie Mellon University, one of the world's leaders in robotics technology. Inductees can be either real-life robots or fictional robots from the world of entertainment.
Rather than induct robots every year, Carnegie Mellon apparently does so when it feels like it. Robots were named to the Hall in 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010 and this year.
This year's inductees are WALL-E, star of the 2008 animated film, and three real-life robots. This brings the total number of Robot Hall of Fame members to 27.
Of those 27, a dozen are fictional robots, and one of them isn't even a robot! That's HAL 9000, the computer system from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Since when is a computer a robot? I'm typing this on an Asus laptop, not an Asus robot.
I'm not saying there aren't any worthy fictional robots in the Hall of Fame. R2-D2 and C-3PO from Star Wars are no-brainers. And Gort from The Day the Earth Stood Still is iconic. (Fun fact: I knew Julian Blaustein, the producer of that 1951 sci-fi classic.)
But Robby the Robot? Seriously? That bucket of bolts? The Lost in Space robot vanquished him in "War of the Robots" (Episode 20, Season 1).
Huey, Dewey and Louie from the 1972 film Silent Running? They're named after ducks, for pete's sake!
Robot B-9 wasn't even on the list of 12 nominees this year. But do you know who was? Rosie the Robot from The Jetsons. A cartoon! People, cartoon robots are now held in higher regard than the guy in a robot suit from a cheesy 1960s sci-fi television show! It's an outrage.
Not only was B-9 once of the slickest looking robots of its day -- all silvery and blinking lights -- he could do things no other robot could do. For example, not only could he play guitar, he played left-handed!
OK, maybe that's the only one. But Robot B-9 also was a hero, saving the lives of the Jupiter II crew again and again. And he did so under the worst of conditions, which can be summed up in three words: Dr. Zachary Smith.
Being lost in space is challenging enough, but when one of your party is an abusive, scheming sociopath stowaway ... well, I'd like to see how Robby the Robot could handle being called a "bubble-headed booby," a "pusillanimous pinhead," or a "monstrous mountebank." Dr. Smith's withering barbs would melt his circuits in three episodes.