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" I sometimes suspect that we're seeing something in the Internet as significant as the birth of cities. It's really something new, it's a new kind of civilization."
- William Gibson

Usuform Robot  
  A robot designed strictly along functional lines.  

In the story, there is a robot epidemic. Arms and legs become weak and need maintenance - maybe it's because a robot that sits all day doesn't need legs.

What good is a robot shaped like a man, when when it does a simple, repetitive job?

"Almost every robot, except perhaps a few like farmhands, does only one or two things and does those things constantly. All right. Shape them so that they can best do just those things, with no parts left over. give them a brain, eyes and ears to receive commands, and whatever [sensory] organs they need to do their work...

That's the source of your whole robot epidemic. They were all burdened down with things they didn't need...

"But this can't be done overnight. People are used to android robots... They'll be scared of your unhuman-looking contraptions... Give'em a name. A good name... Keep 'robots' thats common domain... I've got it. Usuform. Quinby's Usuform Robots. Q.U.R."

From Q.U.R., by Anthony Boucher.
Published by Astounding Science Fiction in 1943
Additional resources -

Another fascinating part of this story is the discussion of how wasteful it is to have a full "mechanical man" when all you need is just a brain, sensory devices and some sort of manipulators for most tasks.

"Robinc is slowly using up all our resources of metallic and radioactive ore, isn't it?" Quinby asked... "And our usuforms will use only a fraction of what Robinc's androids need."

"A good point... You have convinced me that android robots are a prime example of conspicuous waste..."

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Q.U.R.
  More Ideas and Technology by Anthony Boucher
  Tech news articles related to Q.U.R.
  Tech news articles related to works by Anthony Boucher

Usuform Robot-related news articles:
  - Do People Prefer Humanoid Robots?
  - Robots Don't Need To Be Humanoid
  - A Bayesian Approach to Safe Imitation Learning For AIs and Robots

Articles related to Robotics
Terrifying Robotic Apple Harvester
Jetson-Style Clockwork Robot Nail Salon Coming To Target Near You
Mechanical Horse Sculpture Gallops In Place
Hotels Turn To Robots As Human Workers Regroup

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