I have noticed that in most sci-fi films, robots tend to only have eyes/cameras on their front. But surely it would be more efficient for them to have some sort of 360-degree camera instead, so that they could "see" in all directions. One explanation for this could be that the filmmakers wanted to make the robots seem more humanoid, but then that still leaves questions about non-humanoid robots like R2D2 in Star Wars - why do robots like that only have a single camera, when they could have 360-degree cameras that save them from having to turn their "heads" every time they want to "look" at something?

Could somebody explain why this is?

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    The REAL question is, why do most MILITARY and police robots IN THE REAL WORLD today have only a single camera and not 360 degree vision?
    – slebetman
    May 23, 2016 at 6:21
  • @slebetman No, that's not the "real" question here. That's your question. I'm with you, sonrad10, on this, but I'm afraid it's too broad. Sorry. My guess is anthropomorphization. There is no real reason to make robots in our image and waste so much time making a robot bi-pedal, etc. May 23, 2016 at 6:37
  • @MeatTrademark: I guess I wasn't making myself clear enough. The question asked isn't limited to movies. Even in non-movie situations engineers tend to build robots that way. Since in the real world robots work that way then an acceptable answer is "realism". Also, in the real world at least, there are valid reasons for it. The resolution for 360 cameras suck, the end user of the robots are humans who haven't evolved to process 360 images etc. etc.
    – slebetman
    May 23, 2016 at 6:43
  • @slebetman On this site, the question IS limited to Movies and TV. Real world robotics are 100% off-topic here. I suggest checking out the Tour to get a better idea of how to ask and answer questions. Don't mean to sound too harsh, but tell me the rules AFTER you've taken the tour. (It gives you a badge that you do not have.) May 23, 2016 at 6:50
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    @MeatTrademark: sigh.. OK. I'll try to be as clear as I can. Perhaps robots in films only have eyes in front to be realistic. While movies CAN show robots with eyes at the back of their heads it's not very realistic - human engineers have a tendency to design robots with eyes in front.
    – slebetman
    May 23, 2016 at 7:25

2 Answers 2


A mech like R2D2 was designed for repair work. For such a droid there is a question of the need for more then one direction view. That said it actually has a extendable auxiliary visual imaging system and a life form scanner. It also have the universal computer interface arm which can can be coupled directly into for example the system of a starfighter – which in turn has its own sensors etc.

One thing is the need for a 360 vision, another is the added complexity and use of resources, thus also power. The data received by a increased vision specter would need to be defended in light of this. All the data has to be processed, analyzed etc. and a decision made upon the gathered data.

For attack / surveillance robots etc. a increased vision could more easily be defended, but then again several has other sensory systems beside vision to add to the capabilities of data gathering / detection. One have several examples of robots that has no human resemblance and 360, or there about, vision. (Flying surveillance "balls" for example.) Guess it often also can be easy to overlook non-androids as being robots.

Sometimes they inhabit multi presence and are in the grey zone of what can be called robots: for example smart houses with AIs that often do tasks as well as having broad visual observation.

All in all the humanoid aspect is a big factor in regards to why some only have a human like vision specter. Then there are also, to get back to R2D2, aspect of the purpose of the (an)droid. Quite a few has been built to coexist with humans and the AI aspect has been the main focus rather then vision.

And again: as for R2D2, and with several other androids, robots etc. they have other means of “seeing” – or more correctly – methods of gathering data, such as various scanners and sensory systems etc. that extend the picture.

As with us: we have sight, but also hearing, touch, smell etc. that combined is processed to “decipher” our surroundings.


The only thing i can think of is, it makes for better filmography / moviemaking.

It reminds me of a scene from Terminator 2, when the Terminator is driving a car at night without headlights. Someone asks if he can see okay, and he says he can see everything. They illustrate by showing what he sees, which is a bunch of data laid over his vision. But why would a Terminator have to "read" data visually like that? Surely it would be input directly into his systems. But it made for better filmography, i suppose.

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    "But why would a Terminator have to "read" data visually like that?" It's probably just debug output left in there by SkyNet because that part was horrible written human spaghetty code it didn't dare to touch. :D
    – Mario
    May 23, 2016 at 7:00

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