TARS

I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed Interstellar, and then I went and watched this video. It’s a behind-the-scenes bit on TARS and CASE, the robots in the film. Those ‘bots were, of course, one of my favorite aspects of the whole thing.
They were so well-executed, and a lovely counterpoint to David in Prometheus. David was skeumorphism to the extreme, designed to look exactly like a human. When he (spoiler alert) gets damaged, you see a lot of biotech internals, nanowhatever and fluid that doesn’t look like blood, but definitely doesn’t look like oil.1

TARS,2 on the other hand, is the epitome of the ‘flat’ design aesthetic that’s big right now.3 Form absolutely follows function, and function was to do things, not to look pretty while coincidentally doing things.

That’s why I liked TARS so much – sure, the AI involved had a lot of personality, which is definitely a requirement, but the designers said “skip the Uncanny Valley” and made a plank. A plank that can do a lot, though, and hides a lot of secrets.4

I’ve been talking about movies a lot lately. It’s because it’s spring break, I’ve actually got the time to watch movies. How lovely. Now, if you haven’t seen Interstellar, go watch it, if only because TARS is great and the soundtrack is phenomenal.


  1. Or whatever it is that you’d use inside a robot. I’m studying programming, not robotics. 
  2. TARS is more of a main character than CASE, and writing “TARS and CASE” got old really fast
  3. Actually, I think EVA from Wall-E is the epitome of flat design, but TARS is the ‘believable with current technological advancement’ version. 
  4. Although, looking at the joints again, I’d say that TARS also uses some fancy magnetics, but EVA still wins hands down, because… levitation.