Those of you with long memories will remember a classic space movie from 1956 called Forbidden Planet. The film (and subsequent cult stage play) features an unusual cinema icon – Robby the Robot.
Full of personality, Robby clanked his way around the film and has been doing so ever since in film and TV cameos up to the present day.
Robby has helped to set an image of our mechanical friends that lingers today, but in reality the world of robotics is much more diverse, and can even appear stranger than fiction itself.
One of the latest robotics projects involving chemical engineers is work being undertaken at the University of Michigan. They are attempting to create robots smaller than a grain of sand and have already shown how chains of self-assembling particles could serve as electrically activated muscles in tiny machines.