Here are a whole bunch of pix and videos of robots, some of them kind of lifelike in various ways. (Note that some of these pages start playing sound as soon as you arrive on them.)
- Sega Dream DX toy robot dog.
- Pleo toy robot dinosaur. The reviews all rave about this, especially about how lifelike it is, but the videos I've seen make it look kind of boring and mechanical. Wasn't going to link to it, but it fits the theme of this entry.
- Bristlebot, a tiny cute vibrating robot that zooms around a tabletop, which you can make at home using a toothbrush, a pager-vibrating motor, and a battery.
- Another easy-to-make vibrobot: ArtBot, dating at least back to the days of Zoom, made of a cup, three colored pens, and a motor.
- "How to make a vision-guided fireball-throwing catapult out of an ordinary industrial robot."
Potentially seriously useful robots:
Potential military robots:
- The one that's been making the rounds: BigDog quadruped robot, paid for (at least in part) by Darpa; this one ain't no toy, but it's more creepily lifelike than any of the above robot toys. Neat to watch it recovering its balance after slipping on ice or being kicked. I recommend turning off the sound for this video unless you really like creepy loud buzzing noises. The previous Gizmodo article about this device (earlier in its development) described it as being like a pantomime horse, and I think that's a great description--but specifically more like two pantomime horse back halves stuck together facing each other. Best comments on this later Gizmodo article: "Imagine two hundred of these bringing peace and democracy to your neighborhood" and "Frackin' Toaster."
- A smaller and less noisy version of the same kind of bot, made by the same company: LittleDog, which looks kind of like an insectoid alien frog.
- Finally, here's another BigDog video. This one's pretty entertaining.
Thanks to Josh, Aaron, and a bunch of others.