3D-printed robot's only job is to pass the butter, mourn its wasted life

In the Something Ricked This Way Comes episode of popular sci-fi comedy Rick and Morty, eccentric mad scientist Rick dooms a self-aware robot to a life of depressing servitude by giving it the job of passing butter on the kitchen table. “Oh my god,” the robot says, as it realizes what’s in store for it.

It’s a throwaway joke, but — thanks to 3D printing and YouTube tech blogger ESDEV, aka Andre Bella — it now has a life outside of animation.

As a fan of Rick and Morty, Bella decided to create a replica of the two-armed robot, using a painted I Spy Tank for the bottom part and a 3D-printed shell for its upper half.

“It’s pretty simple, really,” he told Digital Trends. “I had one of the I Spy RC toys. I removed its cover, 3D printed a new shell for it, and then modified the electronics.”

Bella noted that while he sometimes creates 3D-printed objects for himself, he does not always post them online. On this occasion, he did, and he is pleased because the depressing robot has proven to be a hit with Rick and Morty fans — more than 1 million have already checked it out.

As for what’s next, Bella said he plans to give everyone with access to a 3D printer the opportunity to build a butter-passing bot of their own. “The next step is going to be to post the files and a video tutorial showing how to do it,” he said.

So why did the joke strike such a chord with him? “It’s a funny joke, but it’s also kind of philosophical,” he said. “It’s like life. You go for a job and, on your first day, your boss asks you to pass him some papers. You do, but you want to know what your purpose is — and really it’s just passing someone else papers.”

As Rick says to the despairing robot in the episode, “Welcome to the club, pal.”

Emerging Tech

NASA’s ‘Refabricator’ lets astronauts recycle 3D-printed tools to make new ones

The International Space Station just received a fancy new gadget in the form of a Refabricator, a machine capable of 3D printing using recycled plastic materials. Here's how it works.
Movies & TV

J.J. Abrams wraps production on Star Wars: Episode IX with a heartfelt message

Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams has wrapped production on Star Wars: Episode IX, which he directed and co-wrote. Here's everything we know about the movie before it premieres in December 2019.
Movies & TV

The truth is out there: Here are the 10 best episodes of ‘The X-Files’

From alien-abduction drama to hilarious satires, these are the best episodes of The X-Files from all 11 seasons of the award-winning series that made audiences want to believe that the truth - scary as it might be - is out there.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Movies & TV

Stay inside this winter with the best shows on Hulu, including 'Legion'

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Emerging Tech

Words are so 2018. The Peeqo robot speaks exclusively in GIFs and video clips

Move over, Amazon Echo! Peeqo is a cute robot that will answer your spoken word questions by displaying a specially selected short video or GIF. Because, you know, it’s the year 2019.
Product Review

Yuneec’s Mantis Q will make you wish you bought a DJI drone

Yuneec’s high-end drones are arguably the ones to beat in terms of flight control, design, and their photographic capabilities. But the company has struggled to make a low-end drone that’s worth buying, and the Mantis Q is proof of that…
Emerging Tech

Airbus will stop making the world’s biggest passenger plane

Airbus announced this week that it will stop building the world's biggest passenger plane in 2021. The maker of the double-decker A380 said a changing market and lack of orders gave it little choice but to end production.
Emerging Tech

Exploding vape pen battery starts fire on SkyWest flight

A vape pen battery caused a fire in an overhead bin on a SkyWest Airlines flight on Wednesday. It's the latest in a string of incidents where faulty or poorly made lithium-ion batteries have caused gadgets to catch fire.
Emerging Tech

Photosynthesizing artificial leaf may be the air-cleaning tool we’ve dreamed of

Engineers from the University of Illinois at Chicago have invented an artificial leaf which could both clean up our air and provide a cost-effective type of fuel. Here's how it works.
Mobile

These 13 gadgets walk a fine line between ingenious and insane

The annual avalanche of devices and gadgets is astounding, but how many will succeed? A few are destined to spark new trends, while the majority fade deservedly into obscurity. We look at some gadgets on the border of brilliant and bonkers.
Emerging Tech

A.I.-powered website creates freakishly lifelike faces of people who don’t exist

No, this isn't a picture of a missing person. It's a face generated by a new artificial intelligence on the website ThisPersonDoesNotExist.com. Here's how the impressive A.I. works.
Emerging Tech

China’s mind-controlled cyborg rats are proof we live in a cyberpunk dystopia

Neuroscience researchers from Zhejiang University, China, have created a method that allows humans to control the movements of rats using a technology called a brain-brain interface.
Emerging Tech

NASA’s MAVEN orbiter has a new job as a communication relay for Mars 2020

NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) orbiter has been collecting atmospheric readings but now is taking on a new job as a data relay satellite for the Mars 2020 mission that launches next year.