DaVinci | Huey, Dewey and Louie | Roomba | Spirit and Opportunity | Terminator
Huey, Dewey and Louie
The robots Huey, Dewey and Louie were inducted into the Robot Hall of Fame in the same year as the T-800 Terminator, but the contrast between them couldn't be greater. These aren't sleek, unstoppable cyborg assassins. These are non-talking robotic worker bees that waddle around awkwardly, performing maintenance and other duties on the domed spaceship Valley Forge.
At the outset of the 1971 movie, "Silent Running," the robots aren't even all that interesting and are known only as Drone 1, Drone 2 and Drone 3. The spaceship they tend is carrying the last remnants of flora and fauna from an environmentally ravaged Earth. Their emergence as characters occurs only after the crew is ordered to jettison these greenhouses and return to Earth, setting in motion the film's plot.
One of the crew members, Freeman Lowell, played by actor Bruce Dern, refuses to obey the order. To preserve the ecosystems, he kills his fellow crew members, leaving the drones as his only companions. He tries to make them more like humans, giving them names and teaching them to play poker, plant trees, and even perform surgery on his injured leg.
Though unable to speak, the robots display charm and personality and help Lowell revel in the joys of nature – at least until another spacecraft comes to rescue Lowell. Ultimately, one of the greenhouses is saved and responsibility for tending the planet's last forest falls to one surviving drone, Dewey.
Silent Running was the first film directed by Douglas Trumbull, who had become famous for the special effects in "2001: A Space Odyssey," and would later supervise visual effects for such science fiction films as "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "Star Trek: The Motion Picture," and "Blade Runner."
Huey, Dewey and Louie were played by double-amputee actors, whose arms served as the drones' legs. The actors walked on their hands to achieve the robots' distinctive waddling gait.