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Why are there so few robots in Star Trek?

I would say that the relative lack of onscreen robots had to do with show budgets, but even some of the cheesiest science fiction shows have depicted them quite commonly (Lost in Space, Doctor Who, etc). And clearly in later years Star Trek would be able to afford even animatronic props or decent rendered footage of them. So what gives? Did I just miss these episodes? I'm fairly certain that I've seen all of TOS and TNG (and the movies), so I expect that if there are such they are DS9, Voyager, or Enterprise.

Can anyone point me in the right direction?

  • Uhm ... do the Borg count?
    – bitmask
    Oct 5, 2012 at 21:02
  • @bitmask No. Even if you figure that they are robotic in nature, a humanoid robot is properly an "android". The androids that Mudd had with him in TOS aren't non-android robots.
    – John O
    Oct 5, 2012 at 21:22
  • @JohnO: Well, an android is a robot that is designed to resemble humans. If you grant that the Borg are robots in the broadest sense, they are no androids as they are not meant (in-universe) to simulate humanoids. They just happen to make use of humanoids as raw materials and thus look a bit like humanoid biological organisms.
    – bitmask
    Oct 5, 2012 at 22:02
  • 1
    Does the ships computer count? I mean, it has full automatic control of piloting the ship and running various systems. AI is not a requirement for a "robot".
    – ewanm89
    Oct 5, 2012 at 23:57

4 Answers 4


This question might be closed as a dup, but here goes:

Robot: A robot is a machine that automatically performs a set of usually pre-programmed tasks and has limited autonomy.



I say the Enterprise because it decided to create Moriarty as a sentient holo program. It also probably does a lot of things on its own.

Additionally I will say the that Enterprise-D (and really all starships and space stations from TNG and onward) acted as butlers. Via voice command you could request food and drink, entertainment, call up friends, and control the conditions of your quarters.


On Runabouts, they can perform autonomous tasks, such as take evasive manuevers and return fire.


There may be more examples in Voyager, I've never watched more than a handful of episodes.



  • Your definition mentions machines. Is Moriarty a machine?
    – Junuxx
    Oct 6, 2012 at 1:07
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    @Junuxx: No, he's software.
    – jwodder
    Oct 6, 2012 at 1:19
  • I would offer that Moriarty is tangible, he can touch and be touched. This means he is literally substantial. The matter he is composed of may be exotic and quite mutable, but it's still matter (in the form of exotic particles). Still, being humanoid that would mean he was an android. One might argue that he is an avatar also (or instead).
    – John O
    Oct 6, 2012 at 1:30
  • @Junuxx I think the Enterprise has some robot qualities, but I would classify Moriarty and the Doctor as androids. Oct 6, 2012 at 1:58
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    How silly of me, the episode was actually called Warhead.
    – bitmask
    Oct 6, 2012 at 16:14

Yes, there were. The first example to come to mind are the Exocomps seen in TNG The Quality of Life (6x09).



Two more are Satan's Robot on Voyager's holodeck in Night and "Automated personnel unit 3947" together with a whole robot race from Voyager's Prototype.

APU 3947:

enter image description here

Satan's Robot:

enter image description here

  • 1
    APU 3947 looks like an android to me (humanoid). Oct 6, 2012 at 1:57

I suppose it depends on how you define "robot".

I'd say that Flint's M-4 from the TOS episode "Requiem for Methuselah" and Nomad from "The Changeling" both qualify (even though Nomad was primarily a space probe).

M-4: M-4 Nomad: Nomad

(Note that both props use some of the same pieces; I presume there's no good in-universe explanation for that. Nomad's "head" was also used in the Romulan Cloaking device in "The Enterprise Incident".)

More examples: V'Ger (Voyager 6) from Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and a brief appearance of the Mars Pathfinder Sojourner rover in the opening credits of Star Trek: Enterprise. (That last one is iffy.)

I don't recall seeing any robot-like machines that move on the ground, either by walking or using wheels, as most robots in other shows usually do.

  • I had forgotten about these, but now that you mention it both must be robots by any decent definition. Just never connected the dots before now I guess.
    – John O
    Oct 5, 2012 at 21:23
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    Don't forget "The Doomsday Machine". Spock: "[The Constellation] was attacked by what appears to be essentially a robot; an automated weapon of immense size and power."
    – Beta
    Oct 5, 2012 at 23:52

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