If you watch the kooky Adult Swim cartoon series Rick and Morty, there’s a chance you’re familiar with a scene in which the show’s eponymous mad-scientist grandfather (Rick) creates a miniature robot whose sole reason for existing is to fetch out-of-reach butter on the breakfast table. “What is my purpose?” the robot asks Rick after it’s performed its duty. “You pass butter,” Rick tells him in his typically matter-of-fact monotone. “Oh my God,” the robot says, despondently dropping his mechanical head and arms to the ground. “Yeah, welcome to the club, pal,” Rick says.
It’s a pretty great scene and a pretty great idea, the sad little butter-grabbing robot, who on hard mornings might even serve as a foil to help you realize that your life isn’t so bad after all, at least compared to the morose piece of metal before you.
And now that idea is a reality—sort of. A Reddit user named Andredotcom used a 3D printer, a miniature motor and an app-controlled RC car to recreate Rick’s little anthropomorphic robot (from season 1, episode 9), which speaks and hangs its head low like a real person defeated by his or her own sad existential thoughts. The real robot is, naturally, a bit clunkier than its animated counterpart—it appears to stick its mechanical claws into the butter itself rather than grabbing the dish on which the butter sits—but it still manages to drag the stick of butter across a wood table and deposit it before a plate of toaster-oven waffles. Convenience!
Everyone should have one of these things on their table, I think, especially coupled (or tripled) with another robot, like the robo-vacuum with arms that sucks up crumbs, or the wind-up salt and pepper shakers that walk across your eating surface to help out those in need of a spice pick-me-up. Such a table, peopled with robots, would be a delightful thing to experience in the morning, purposes be damned.