AMEE – the Beauty and the Beast of the Mars Expedition

AMEE - the Beauty and the Beast of the Mars Expedition
AMEE - the Beauty and the Beast of the Mars Expedition

AMEE, from the movie Red Planet, definitely doesn’t deserve to go down in robot history as a short-lived villain. I would love to see her again, in another movie, in a bigger, I daresay, more suitable role, and maybe she can walk with heroes this time around.

Her name is short for Autonomous Mapping Evaluation and Evasion. She is a multi-task robot borrowed from the Marines to assist the Mars lending crew as their navigator while they try to figure out what went wrong with terraforming projects. She is powered by “nuclear power cell the size of a beer can” which “runs her for eight months” as Gallager explains in the movie.

The robot has two basic modes: navigation and military. The latter is activated at the push of a button, at which moment her inner screen filter color switches from green to red. She is a cuddly little, well, no so little, thing with a name to match in the navigation mode and a sophisticated killing machine in the military one.

In the movie Red Planet after a rough landing – the scene when the robot gets out of the storage compartment and checks her damaged “paw” – she is reunited with the survived astronauts. When they try to remove some of her parts and “kill” her, due to damage she sustained she switches to the military mode and fights back (titanium) tooth and claw.

AMEE - the Beauty and the Beast of the Mars Expedition
AMEE – the Beauty and the Beast of the Mars Expedition

She displays not just a range of motion, but also her military programming, which features guerrilla tactics including search and destroys options. (Why would astronauts and engineers on a purely scientific mission to Mars need a robot programmed for combat when it can be programmed to perform a zillion more useful tasks for the mission is another issue.)

She caries on her back a flying search drone, which detaches itself if necessary. If severely damaged she can use this drone to self-destruct.

When not operational, she folds herself in a handy (and trendy) carry-on baggage.

Unfolded she walks and runs on all fours with a feline-like grace. Cat person that I am, she won me over then and there. When in the military mode she stands on her hind legs and assumes a warrior pose and fights with her front legs. She can also jump pretty high and do flips in the air. This strange combination of the feline and fighter rolled into one gives her an extra appeal.

AMEE is a beautifully 3d-animated character. Designers integrated this interesting CG robot into live-action scenes carefully matching lights, textures, and movements. Article Cinesite Creates AMEE gives further information. Here is just a small digest:

Here are three interesting “the making of” videos (to view them you would need QuickTime Player version 3.0 or higher) which show:


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