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Robot Hall of Fame Snubs Rosie from The Jetsons

on Mon, 12/24/2012 - 18:08

Carnegie Mellon University is at the forefront of robotic research in the United States. It launched a Robotics Institute in 1979—the first in the country—and began offering a PhD in robotics a mere nine years later. The Robotics Institute’s budget for 2012 was in excess of $65 million, and it is by far the largest robotics research organization in the world. It turns out that Carnegie Mellon University is more than just interested in robotic technology, however, but is equally committed to recognizing achievements in the industry, both in the real world and within the realms of fiction.

To further this endeavor, CMU created the Robot Hall of Fame in 2003 in order to recognize the pioneers in the field of robotics. Inductees are broken into four categories—Education & Consumer, Entertainment, Industrial & Service, and Research. But just like the inductions of any other Hall of Fame, it appears that this year’s selections are not without controversy as only one fictional robot, WALL-E from the film of the same name, was elected.

Pittsburgh ToonSeum executive director Joe Wos does not dispute the validity of WALL-E as an inductee, but in an editorial for the December 23, 2012, edition of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Wos argues that a grave injustice was done by not including robotic maid Rosie from The Jetsons as well. “Beloved by legions of fans, Rosie’s sweet but no-nonsense temperament led to generations longing for a future where robots would clean up for us and raise our families,” Wos writes. “Kind of like the Stepford wives but with witty banter about the future and vacuum cleaner-attachment sight gags.”

Joe Wos’ argument for Rosie’s inclusion in the Robot Hall of Fame goes beyond mere nostalgia, however, as George Jetson’s robotic maid has multiple ties to Pennsylvania. “She was inspired by the popular lead character on the TV show Hazel, who was inspired by the popular comic strip of the same name, which was created by Pennsylvania-based cartoonist Ted Key,” Wos explains. “Rosie was voiced by another Pennsylvania native, Jean Vander Pyle.”

According to the Robot Hall of Fame, over 17,000 people around the world participated in the online voting that was held during the months of August and September in order to select the class of 2012. The nominees, meanwhile, were chosen by an all-star committee of experts in the field of robotics. While Rosie was indeed amongst the nominees in the Entertainment category, she apparently lost in the final vote tally to WALL-E.

“The Robot Hall of Fame is important,” Joe Wos writes in the Post-Gazette. “We need it. Robots are a part of our popular culture and everyday life, from the Terminator to that really cool soda vending machine with the robotic arm.”

For Joe Wos, however, the long overdue induction of Rosie from The Jetsons into the Pittsburgh-based Robot Hall of Fame is just as important.

Anthony Letizia (December 24, 2012)

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