Fake Screws! Russian Talking, Dancing Robot Is Actually A Man In A Suit
High-tech marvel unveiled as straight out of 1960s sci-fi
If there’s one thing that we think we know in this age of Trump, it’s that Russia are the new tech superpower, hacking into Silicon Valley and overturning Western democracy.
But their latest all-talking, all-dancing robot shown on state television has turned out to be not quite the marvel that was claimed.
In fact the incredible ‘Boris the Robot’ was just some guy in a robot suit.
Boris was a feature of Proyektoria (which translates as ‘Project’ - no relation), a youth forum dedicated to robotics. The state TV news network Russia-24 praised him in a report, saying “Robot Boris has already learned to dance and he’s not that bad”.
But the Russian blogosphere wasn’t convinced. The website TJournal asked a series of probing questions, such as:
- Why did the robot feature no sensors?
- Why did it make so many unnecessary, non-robotic movements while dancing?
- Where was the research behind this advanced robot?
- Why did it look like a man would fit perfectly inside it?
Finally the Achilles heel in the mechanically-perfect crime was found: in the segment in which he was being praised as a high-tech breakthrough, a screengrab revealed a large humanoid neck in between the robot’s head and body.
In fact it appears to be a costume available to buy for 250,000 rouble (about AU$5200) from the company Show Robots, where Boris is in fact known as Alyosha the Robot.
That’s right, the same non-deadly non-laser eyes. The same pointless dots on the chest. The same not-very-robotic moves.
And then MBKh Media, a news agency founded by anti-Putin Russian exile Mikhail Khodorkovsky, tweeted a picture allegedly showing the actor getting fitted into his costume. Or possibly having his diodes changed, it’s hard to tell.
To be fair, reports suggest that the organisers of Project (which again we are at pains to point out is in no way related to us) weren’t trying to fool the audience – just trying to do a sketch to show kids how robotics could be fun.
Unfortunately, no-one in the audience was laughing… and perhaps that’s why the state TV station seemed to take it at LED-lit-face value.
At least we can rest assured that Boris is one robot that probably won’t be destroying us in the near future. If only we could say the same for this mechanical monster: