Correct me if I'm wrong but in the movie the main character due to relativity spends 60+ years away from the rest of the world.

When thay start the journey they take the robots with them.

60 years later that same model and type of robot is able to interface with a new and improved Ranger craft??

Seems to me that the only reason that the spacecraft isn't smaller/sleeker is so that it can accommodate a robot of that particular make and model.

Is this a deliberate hole in the plot by the writers ( so that our hero doesn't go off into the sunset alone ) or is it an oops moment?


What I'm asking is:

  1. Is this a deliberate hole in the plot by the writers?
  2. How can a robot that is 70+ years interact with a new craft?

For 1 I'm interested in real life answers if any exist (post-movie interviews, script edits etc.). For 2 I would like in-universe if possible.

  • 1
    I thought I remembered him taking his own Ranger back out. I didn't honestly pay much attention to the design, though.
    – phantom42
    Jan 27, 2015 at 13:56
  • 3
    You're assuming that they don't simply have backwards-compatibility for that model of robot but are designed for something completely different. Jan 27, 2015 at 14:16
  • 7
    You're assuming that whatever improvements occurred over an 80 year period would have altered that field of technology significantly enough to render interface impossible. Is it a plot hole that an 80 year old radio still receives radio signals today or that a 25 year old HTML document still renders in a web browser? Some things don't change as much as you'd expect them to. Jan 27, 2015 at 14:38
  • 4
    @Cherubel You're talking about cheap consumer gadgets and electronics. Spacecraft isn't the same kind of animal as PlayStation games and distributed music. How often do you think actual aerospace conventions change? How old are the GPS satellites you use every day? What about the Hubble Space Telescope's comms? The point is, yes, it's reasonable to expect a space robot to be able to communicate with a spacecraft 80 years newer than it. Just as reasonable as it is to plug your new refrigerator into an 80 year old wall outlet or insert a new light-bulb into an 80 year old lamp. Jan 27, 2015 at 15:13
  • 2
    Well, if C3-PO can communicate with Lars' binary load lifters... Mar 11, 2015 at 16:22

3 Answers 3


To answer your questions:

  1. No. It's not plot hole, therefore it's not an intended plot hole.
  2. There's not reason it should not be able to. It interfaces with the spacecraft in the same way it would have 80 years prior.

The aerospace industry today is nowhere near the level it is in Interstellar, yet even today we see far slower progression of communication standards used in this industry.

Spacecraft aren't the same kind of animal as PlayStation games or distributed music. Aerospace conventions change incredibly slowly. GPS satellites have been communicating using the same protocol they have been for decades. The Hubble Space Telescope communicates with the same protocol it did in the 90's, a protocol developed in the 80's.

It is absolutely reasonable to expect a space robot to be able to communicate with a spacecraft 80 years newer than it. It is just as reasonable as it is to plug your new refrigerator into an 80 year old wall outlet, insert a new light-bulb into an 80 year old lamp, or turn on an 80 year old radio and hear your local AM stations.

Also consider that space missions are long, they take a long time. Voyager 2 has been communicating with Earth for 35 years, and it's expected to be doing so for another 10.

What does a can of soup from the 80's have in common with a modern can of soup? Well for one a modern bar-code scanner can still read its ancient UPC code.

In short, it's not a plot hole at all, in fact it's rather realistic.

  • I'd also think that an advanced AI system that has a body that can essentially transform would be capable of making some adaptations (or having someone like Cooper make improvements). We already know that TARS had pretty much every sensor available (which is why he was chosen to be sent into Gargantua), so his systems are capable of handling a wide variety of data types and structures.
    – user31178
    Apr 7, 2015 at 16:31
  • Alternatively, the modern computers in Cooper Station have the ability to translate / interpret the ancient messages from 80+ year old robots. I still have working 3.5" and 5.25" floppy disk and their drives. I can still run 16 bit DOS programs on my 64 bit box 30 years later. I know where I can find working paper tape readers to go back another 10-20 years in computer history.
    – Jim2B
    Jun 18, 2015 at 2:32
  • I don't buy it. Space programs are particularly bad about using proprietary systems that die. It's been less than 50 years since Apollo 11 and nothing we have today will work with that technology to the point where even archiving the old data is a problem. Old probes like Voyager and Pioneer require keeping specialized old equipment around. There's few electronic connectors or devices on a first-gen DC-8 that would be familiar to you. Even the Space Shuttle, at 30 years, was difficult to work with because its systems were so old.
    – Schwern
    Oct 15, 2015 at 18:10
  • Upvoted even though you can't always plug a brand new refrigerator into an 80 year old power outlet in North America. Residential power wiring has changed a lot in North America since 1939. Heck, you couldn't plug a lot of present-day coffee grinders into many outlets installed in the 1960s. May 16, 2019 at 16:18

There is nothing in canon to support this, but he may have upgraded the robot to be compatible.

As Cooper is recovering on the station, and awaiting the arrival of his daughter, he find the robot in the museum they have set up based on his house. It is in serious need of repair, and he busies himself by making the necessary reparations. It is entirely possible, that he upgraded or modified it in some way to be compatible with the newer systems. (Replace the USB 5.1 with Tornado)

He was shown the new Rangers upon awakening in the station, and probably would not have been restricted from getting a very detailed look at them and their inner workings. He was an ace pilot and hero of legend in addition to being a technical expert.

As he had enough of an emotional attachment to the robot to repair it, and a desire to at least fly a new Ranger, he had the motivation to want his robot with him on his outings. He intended from the outset of repairing it for it to fly with him.

Again, nothing solid to support this, but it is entirely plausible. He had the time, skill, resources, and motivation to upgrade the robot to be compatible with the new Rangers so that it could fly with him.


I do not disagree with the prior answers but had an additional consideration to add.

The world's technology progress had halted. In some ways, they had regressed to be technologically inferior to our current levels of technology (no MRI machines).

NASA especially had lost favor with public opinion and was no longer able to develop anything new during that time. As @Gorchestopher h stated, it isn't just reasonable, it would be extremely surprising if they no longer interfaced properly.

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