The 'Robots' exhibition has just opened at the Science Museum. It covers over 500 years of innovation, and along the way throws up some VERY weird specimens. Here are a few highlights from the show. Brace yourselves: some of them aren't exactly R2-D2.
Automaton monk, Spain c. 1560
Look at this fella! Isn't he, um, cute? Some of the earliest mechanical inventions were created by members of the church, and this little monk could actually walk across a tabletop while waving a crucifix and rosary about. If the idea is to put the fear of God into you, it's done the job.
Silver Swan, UK c. 1773
By the eighteenth century everyone was going crazy for 'automatons' – basically, whirring things that moved in entertaining ways, like this swan, which held pride of place in showman James Cox's Mechanical Museum in London. If you find yourself in the exhibition at 10.25am on weekdays, you can watch it preen itself.
Maria from 'Metropolis', 1927
One of a handful of fictional robots that make an appearance in the show, Maria is the first ever robot to appear on celluloid, in Fritz Lang's masterpiece 'Metropolis'. Star Wars fans will notice that she's also reportedly a major inspiration for the look of a certain droid that specialises in human-cyborg relations...
Kodomoroid, Japan 2014
Meet Kodomoroid. 'She' is a newsreader for the Japanese National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation. 'She' is also indescribably creepy if you see her in the (plastic) flesh.
RoboThespian, UK 2016
You might find this guy anywhere in the exhibition, constantly on the move, staring at you with a big pair of eyes on mini-monitors and delivering performances every 20 minutes. Much like human thespians, he gets on your nerves after a while.
And last but not least, here's the cutest of the lot...
Animatronic baby, UK 2016
See? Cute, right? Right? This mechanical munchkin was created by a special effects company for a film. It can burble and wiggle so convincingly that if didn't appear to be hovering in mid-air like some infant version of the girl in 'The Exorcist', you'd be forgiven for thinking it was a real baby. Sadly, there are none available in the gift shop.
'Robots' runs at the Science Museum until Sep 3.
Want more cool droids? Check out these awesome robots that are changing London.