The Terminator Robots

The Terminator Robots

The Terminator Robots.

One of the most popular films to ever come out of the eighties, the Terminator by James Cameron introduced the world to a type of nearly indestructible humanoid soldiers and assassins, most memorable of which is the cyborg programmed to kill Sarah Connor, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the very first of the series. In the film, Sarah Connor is the mother of the human resistance against the machines. She is the mother of John Connor, who will eventually lead what remains of the world's military and human survivors.

Created by a self-aware military supercomputer called Skynet, terminator robots are emotionless and efficient killing machines made with particularly powerful metal endoskeletons made from hydraulic servomechanisms. A layer of living tissue covers this metal so that cyborgs can resemble human beings. These “cybernetic organisms” were made specifically for infiltration and combat duty, and ultimately to exterminate the growing human resistance against Skynet. Virtually indistinguishable from other humans, They can speak naturally, imitate voices, read, sweat, smell, and even bleed. As such, the human resistance needs dogs to differentiate a terminator robot from real human beings.

Some sources state that the terminator robot concept came from a dream director James Cameron had in Rome, about a metallic torso dragging itself from an explosion carrying kitchen knives. He wrote a draft for this story, using as inspiration mainly 1950’s science fiction films. In 1984, filming finally began in Los Angeles. The robot itself was designed by Stan Winston and Cameron by passing sketches of ideas back and forth. They eventually went for a design nearly identical to the original one Cameron drew in Rome. A team of seven artists were then contracted to work for six months to create a puppet of the Terminator. The puppet was first molded in clay, then plaster reinforced with steel ribbing. The pieces were then sanded, painted and then chrome-plated. Reproduction of Schwarzenegger's face was also sculpted out of silicone, clay and plaster. Some of the robot’s scenes in the film were developed by Fantasy II, a special effects company.

Schwarzenegger’s character was simply called “The Terminator”, although new models with specific model names have been added for each subsequent film/ television episode and video game franchise.

The Series 1 robot, also known as T-1, is the first terminator class robot to be produced. These are designed for extreme combat, and the Series 1 was built to clear battlefields of enemy troops using powerful weaponry. Because perfect bipedal military terminator robots could not yet be made at that time, these early robot series' were fitted with unique tank-like treads, allowing them speed, superior grip and maneuverability on uneven terrain. This makes them highly versatile in nearly any form of environment.

Usually covered in a sheet of rubber skin, the T-600 model may be considered the prototype to the more well-known T-800 terminator units. T-600s are typically used for espionage and infiltration instead of combat, though their roles have diminished due to the development of more advanced models like T-800 and the T-1000.

Although generally efficient, the T-600 is supposedly hampered by a flaw in design. Their cybernetic cortex is too exposed, thus vulnerable to piercing damage that may causes several behavioral glitches like disorientation, failure to correctly label humans as a threat, and random weaponry discharge.

The Series 800 terminator robot (the one that made Arnold Schwarzenegger famous) is a model mass produced by Skynet. It is the first cybernetic organism made with living tissue over a "hyperalloy" endoskeleton. It is also the first successful infiltrator unit able to gain access to the human resistance. Highly advanced, the T-800 can run internal systems checks, calculate the distance of objects relative to itself, sample and analyze the atmosphere, weather patterns and wind velocity and analyze human emotional states, body language and direction of muscle contraction, enabling it to successfully calculate the force of gravity, among other abilities. Unlike the T-600, the T-800 is far more resilient to all forms of attack.

The Series 1000 Terminator, or simply T-1000, is one of the most advanced models yet. Instead of living tissue over a metallic endoskeleton, this series is entirely made of a liquid metal called mimetic polyalloy that allow it to deform and shape shift. Due to its "liquid metal" properties, the T-1000 is electrically conductive and capable of extensive regeneration. It is important to note though that the smaller the volume of particles it breaks into, the less intelligent each piece is. The T-1000 is also capable of voice imitation, environmental analysis, and combat. More importantly, the T-1000 models are self-aware, and could make decisions counter to that of its maker.

With the inevitable sequels, came female terminators. The first one being quite like the t600, the T-X, also known as the Terminatrix, appeared in the 2003 film Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Portrayed by the glamorous Kristanna Sommer Loken, our first glimpse of her in T3, like her male counterparts, was completely nude as she had just made her way through the time-space continuum and then started to search for clothing.

Not too long after that movie with the first terminatrix came the first ever TV series called "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles." It continued with the same basic premise of the movie franchise with a few extra twists and turns. It starred the sexy Summer Glau as Cameron, a terminator whom John Connor sent back from 2027 to protect his earlier self. Her model and capabilities were never discussed on the show.

The first film dates to more than 20 years ago, and yet the story and its characters remain relevant up to this day. Is it because the possibility of machines becoming self-aware and taking over the world is just too fascinating to resist, or because the premise is approaching reality a little more each day? It is no secret that military powers over the world continue to develop autonomous machines for aid on the field as the emphatic benefits of such machines in this line of work could not be denied. Of course we’d all like to think that no matter how advanced a piece of technology becomes, a human is still under control, and the human race will not soon be taken over by intelligent cyborgs. But if by some ironic twist in science or fate this possibility should occur in our lifetime, then let’s do well to hope we have a Sarah Connor in our midst. We already have Arnold Schwarzenegger after all.


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