Documentaries  |    |  February 24, 2016

PBS Nova: Rise of the Robots


Documentary by Terri Randall. Runtime 53 minutes.

Machines are everywhere. They run our factory assembly lines and make our coffee. But humanoid robots—machines with human-like capabilities—have long been the stuff of science fiction. Until now. Fueled by an ambitious DARPA challenge, the race is on to design a robot that can replace humans in disaster relief situations. Follow the robots and the engineers that program them as they strive to make their way out of the lab and into the real world. But how capable are they, really? How close are we to a future where humanoid robots are part of our everyday lives? And what will the future look like with robots that can do a human’s job? NOVA investigates the cutting-edge technologies that are advancing robotics—and the enormous challenges that robots still face.


  • Ronald Arkin, Georgia Tech
  • Rodney Brooks, Rethink Robotics
  • Armando De La Rosa T., Shadow Robot Company
  • Teresa Ghilarducci, Economist
  • Clément Gosselin, Laval University
  • Clark Haynes, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Dennis Hong, UCLA
  • Ayanna Howard, Georgia Tech
  • Matt Johnson, IHMC
  • Brett Kennedy, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Vijay Kumar, University of Pennsylvania
  • Gary Marcus, Geometric Intelligence
  • John Markoff, The New York Times
  • Eric Meyhofer, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Junho Oh
  • Paul Oh, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
  • Gill Pratt, DARPA
  • Jerry Pratt, IHMC
  • Nicolaus Radford, Former JSC Valkyrie Team Leader
  • Peter Singer, New America Foundation
  • Siddhartha Srinivasa, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Tony Stentz, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Russ Tedrake, MIT
  • Sherry Turkle, MIT
  • Rich Walker, Shadow Robot Company

*This program is no longer available for online streaming.