I am writing a story featuring a genetically modified human from the future and an alien trapped on 1980s Earth. They crash landed there, and did not intend on being there. Since neither can blend into society because of the way their bodies are shaped, the future human decides to build a human-like robot avatar to remote control and interact with humanity.

The future human acts through this robot via some sort of remote control VR where it feels like he is in its body. It probably reads the future human's brain waves and maybe even has haptic feedback. I'm thinking early on in the story the robot is rudimentary, forcing it to wear a disguise (like a trenchcoat, hat, scarf and gloves to hide its features) but later it gets more human-like until it's good enough to pass as a person.

Resources they have: 1980s Earth, somewhere in the Americas. The alien has a science pod with survival gear (EVA equipment, self-defense equipment, 1st aid, translator, infodump PDA, rations, acclimatization devices, raw organic material to edible food converter, etc.). The future human has a mech-like craft designed for withstanding and exploring a huge variety of environments, a data storage device that contains basically the entire Internet on it as well as a sophisticated AI, and programmable nanomachines. The information and AI available to them can definitely aid in the designing of the robot.

To keep it in check story-wise the nanomachines aren't miracle-workers; they cannot totally reconstitute matter or perform alchemy like Star Trek's replicators. They are more like extremely complex and capable 3D printers that can be governed by the sophisticated AI, and they are restricted to a designated tent-like area, to prevent a grey-goo cascade scenario. They at the very least need raw materials and minerals to transform into something usable. They could make raw organic material, say, edible to the alien but couldn't turn rocks into gold.

So with this in mind, what could they build this humanoid robot out of? What would be needed for a normal person to make an android? Metals, synthetic materials, composite materials? Pistons? Electronics? Wiring? What about the fake muscles, skin, eyes, nervous system, remote control system, etc.? What kind of workbench, tools, etc. would be required? If the nanomachines make it too easy, I could deal with taking that element out as well. On the flip side, if it would be impossible with the materials on-hand, maybe the nanomachines could be made a little more powerful. There aren't many "how to build an android and what materials you need" tutorials online, so if you think you may be able to help me I would appreciate it very much!

[NOTE: reposting this here from scifi.stackexchange after finding out this was a more relevant SE. Here is the original post.]


1 Answer 1


Disney animatronics were originally built with 1950s technology. Steel framing, sealed bearings, ballistic gel padding, silicone rubber skin.

Add 1980s tech ... Amiga computer with vr goggles, access to Jordan Weisman for software. (FASA's battle tech video game hardware and software), ccd video cameras from Sony, VHF radio covering several bands.

Don't try to get on an airplane.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ vr and ccd in the '80s? $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Commented Sep 23, 2017 at 5:58
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ VR was bit of a craze in the 90's (video games [eg Descent] shipped with support for VR goggles), so I imagine it started in the 80's. Possible see pcmag.com/feature/343351/… $\endgroup$
    – sdfgeoff
    Commented Sep 23, 2017 at 7:43
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch look up en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/FASA and their ESP project. They built the first VR arcade game in the '80s, built around a network of up to 8 Amiga. The first Centre opened in 1990, so work was already well underway in the late '80s. I vaguely recall a private preview of the concept just before or just after the 88 winter Olympics. .en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/BattleTech_Centers $\endgroup$
    – pojo-guy
    Commented Sep 23, 2017 at 9:48
  • $\begingroup$ The first ccd cameras were used in astronomical and industrial applications between 1988 and 1990. $\endgroup$
    – pojo-guy
    Commented Sep 23, 2017 at 13:57

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