Meet The World’s Loneliest Robot

This is C.A.R.L., a beautiful and sad robot.

Humans have conjured up all kinds of ideas about what the robots of the future will look like. We’ve imagined it all: deadly ones (RoboCop), professional ones (C-3PO), and adorable ones (Wall-E).


Here’s a contender for biggest sad sack. London-based photographer David Ryle’s series C.A.R.L. documents a faceted humanoid figure as it travels all by its lonesome from London to the white cliffs of Dover to the wilds of Sussex. The suit was the creation of artist Gemma Fletcher and Studio Boo (both also out of London), and Ryle says it’s a reference to retro concepts of what the future would look like. While the images look like they’re tracing a robot’s odyssey across England, they don’t have a narrative arc, Ryle says: “It’s more about the loneliness of being.”

And C.A.R.L. is indeed lonely. Always solo, he can be found gazing (so we assume; he doesn’t have eyes) over balconies or walking down abandoned city streets. His mirrored frame, reflecting everything in its path, only seems to broaden his desolation: In C.A.R.L., we see facets of ourselves.

About the author

Margaret Rhodes is a former associate editor for Fast Company magazine.