June 1, 2015—There are millions of astonishing robots in existence—and innovators at the forefront of the robot revolution are taking robotics to the next level with the new generation of these awe-inspiring machines: humanoid robots that can work like us, play like us, learn and even look like us. This summer, a new giant screen film experience from National Geographic Studios gives audiences an inside look at how hard it is to mimic what we humans can do as well as what it means to be a humanoid. Robots premieres in giant screen, IMAX® and digital 3D cinemas around the United States and worldwide beginning June 5, 2015.

In Robots, host and narrator RoboThespian—a humanoid robot voiced by actor, comedian and filmmaker Simon Pegg (Star Trek; Shaun of the Dead)—takes audiences on a lively tour of the world to meet a dozen of the most remarkable robots in Europe, Japan and the United States. From Robonaut, the first space robot handyman, to robot butlers and home-helper humanoids to eerily human-looking androids to search-and-rescue robots, the film showcases the latest cutting-edge efforts—as well as the challenges—driving roboticists, engineers and scientists around the globe to new breakthroughs.

Directed by Mike Slee (Flight of the Butterflies, Bugs!) and produced by Jini Dürr (Mysteries of the Unseen World; Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure), Robots provides rare access to labs where researchers are putting robots through their paces, striving to replicate human capabilities such as mobility, locomotion and dexterity, using sensory data and visual perception. Getting a machine to move or think like a human, or to sense, plan and act, is no easy feat. Given the complexities and capabilities of the human brain, hands, feet and face alone—not to mention the number of muscles and joints—robot researchers have their work cut out for them in developing humanoids that won’t just achieve human potential, but could one day surpass it.

“This film will really open people’s eyes and make them think about how amazing these machines are, how amazing human beings are and how complicated it is to make a machine that can do what we do,” said Slee.

Robots not only gives remarkable insight into what is currently going on in robotics labs around the world and the extraordinary leaps that have been made in the field, but also highlights the complexities of human ability,” said Dürr.

The 40-minute large-format film explores the latest in the field of artificial intelligence and machine learning, humanoid cognition and human-robot interaction as well as exciting developments in cloud robotics.

Robots also travels to the DARPA Robotics Challenge, the intense two-day competition to test how robots might deal with disasters, staged by the U.S. government’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency as a response to Japan’s 2011 Fukushima earthquake. The competition tested rival all-purpose rescue robots’ abilities to perform tasks such as driving, walking on rough terrain, clearing debris, opening doors, using a power tool and turning a safety valve, all during catastrophic conditions.

An original production from Day’s End Pictures for National Geographic Studios, Robots was produced in partnership with Lockheed Martin. Symantec is an educational outreach partner, while the National 4-H Council and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers are promotional partners for the film. Executive producers are Brooke Runnette and Lisa Truitt. Sean MacLeod Phillips is director of photography.

Robots will captivate on robit battles level,” said Brooke Runnette, president of National Geographic Studios. “Dazzling visuals and a tremendously entertaining story filled with real scientific adventure and technological innovation are all wrapped up in the eye-popping giant screen package.” 


With RoboThespian as a guide, the film highlights the featured aptitudes of each robot. Among the humanoids that ROBOTS introduces to audiences are:

  • “HRP-2”: Designed to study locomotion, this bipedal bot can crawl and walk.
  • “ASIMO”: Honda’s famed humanoid can jump and run up to 5 mph.
  • “ATLAS”: This 6-foot, 330-pound, search-and-rescue robot navigates rough terrain.
  • “COMAN”: Just try to knock down this small headless wonder with the flexible joints.
  • “HERB THE BUTLER”: Thanks to this helper, we may never have to clear the table or do dishes again.
  • “ROBONAUT”: NASA’s space handyman helps astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
  • “CHIMP”: This humanoid “sees” by using laser light and sending out pulses that bounce back, like a bat uses echolocation.
  • “JUSTIN”: You will definitely want this robot on your team. It has a 90 percent accuracy rate for catching balls.
  • “iCUB”: This adorable robot is designed to look like a child and to learn like one.
  • “PR-2”: This robot could tie shoes and fold laundry because of its ability to recognize shapes and manipulate soft and flexible materials.
  • ANDROIDS: The human face has over 40 muscles to express emotions like fear, anger, surprise, happiness—and these androids are programmed to simulate these human-like behaviors. One day, they may be built to think, act and react like us.
  • “NAO”: This small humanoid used for education is a huge favorite with kids everywhere.

Robots gives audiences a fascinating and exciting look at what makes us human, how far machines must go to look and act like us and how humanoids are already changing our world. Addressing technological and philosophical questions with clarity and humor, the film provides a glimpse into a future in which man and machine forge an increasingly sophisticated relationship.

For more information on Robots, including theater listings, links to the trailer and behind-the-scenes videos, visit http://robotsfilm.com or movies.nationalgeographic.com. Become a fan on Facebook at facebook.com/NatGeoMovies. Or follow us on Twitter @NatGeoMovies.

About National Geographic Studios

National Geographic Studios is the video and film production division of the National Geographic Society, a global nonprofit membership organization driven by a passionate belief in the power of science, exploration and storytelling to change the world. From television series and specials to giant screen, from mobile video to digital news and educational content, National Geographic Studios’ productions embody the Society’s long-standing reputation for stunning visuals and captivating storytelling. National Geographic Studios has received nearly 150 Emmy Awards and almost 1,000 other industry accolades, including recognition from the Peabody Awards, DuPont Columbia Awards, multiple film and museum industry awards and the highest honors from natural history film festivals. National Geographic Studios also produces and distributes giant screen and digital 3D films for the museum cinema industry. Brooke Runnette is president of National Geographic Studios.