The world of technology has always been filled with fakes, as people looking to make a quick buck try to pass off their “inventions” as the real deal. The world of robotics, though, holds a special place in the pantheon of phonies. It’s a type of product that thrives on the wow-factor of a live demonstration, which leads desperate con artists to desperate measures.
The first robot butlers appeared in pop culture in the early 20th century—robots that would help serve lunch, clean the room while you watched TV, and even provide “companionship” to lonely women. Engineers have been trying to make robots real ever since, but a fair number of folks have tried to cut corners.
Some of the fakes, like Miss Honeywell from the 1960s, were an attempt to sell things. Other fakes were little more than cheap illusions. But there’s one thing that all of the “robots” on our list share: They’re just humans who were moving funny.