In honor of the Mars Science Laboratory’s successful landing this week, I decided it’s appropriate to share my Top 5 rovers in sci-fi. Of course, these aren’t quite as cool as the real thing on Mars (the science gets more incredible as we progress from Sojourner to Spirit/Opportunity and now Curiosity). But I think the fictional ones here might be a great way to travel on other planets or around future versions of the Earth.
These awesome vehicles, from the 1969 TV series UFO, were pretty ahead of their time — like virtually all tech showcased in Gerry Anderson projects. Airlifted on large transport planes and deposited where needed, they were a key element in the ground-based fight against strange alien invaders.
Ah, those future scientists with their hopeful visions for a post-apocalyptic world. The Ark II vehicle was the centerpiece of an odd (eponymously named) CBS Saturday morning program where a small team tries to bring order to a chaotic 25th Century world. While I didn’t dig the show’s story, I watched every week to see this baby zipping around. It included a smaller open vehicle and a righteous jetpack!
Damnation Alley was one of those movies, like The Day After, that scared the hell out of me. At the time it was made, we really were on the brink of nuclear destruction. If the world’s going to end, you might as well have a kick-ass vehicle like this to use while you eke out your survival. It was able to withstand radioactive fallout, attacks from mutant insects, and cross large bodies of frothing irradiated water.
Prime directive, be damned! It was fun watching Captain Picard and company zip across a barren planet in this futuristic space buggy. It included a convenient shuttle remote control and phaser pulse gun for Worf to blast hideous aliens who also happened to have futuristic ATVs.
Seeing this ultra-modern rover cruise across the surface of LV-226 in the trailers for Prometheus was enough to get me into the theater. It’s an amazing design both inside and out with cool gull-wing doors. Like most of the tech in Ridley Scott’s movies, this thing felt like it could be real.
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