There’s a good reason a humanoid robot that appeared on Russian TV this week looked so human-like. It was a guy in a robot costume.
Boris the robot appeared on stage on opening day of the Proyektoria technology forum for students. It flashed its big green eyes as it shuffled around stiffly à la C-3PO and talked in a halting robotic voice.
“I understand mathematics well, but I want to learn more, like how to draw and write music,” Boris said.
The Proyektoria presenter didn’t say the robot was real, but in a report Tuesday, Russia-24 state television suggested the kids at the educational fair, which took place in Yaroslavl, had the chance to witness “one of the most advanced robots.”
Curious Russian bloggers at TJournal, however, took note of some discrepancies. They asked, for example, why the robot didn’t have any sensors, why its dance moves looked more like spontaneous human awkwardness than preprogrammed robot awkwardness and why there hadn’t been internet coverage of such an advanced robot.
A photo showing a neck peeking out from between the robot’s head and torso didn’t help Boris’ bot credibility.
Some googling by skeptics revealed Boris the robot to be the Alyosha robot costume, which its maker Show Robots describes as able to create “an almost complete illusion that you have a real robot.”
The costume comes with a voice converter and sells for 250,000 rubles (about $3,765, 2,978, AU$5,212).
State television returned to the story on Thursday, with the Russia-24 correspondent saying it was always understood that Boris was simply a man in a convincing suit.
“I was just completely certain that everyone, just like Father Christmas, would definitely know that it’s an actor in a costume, knowing that the whole project was created for children,” the anchor said, according to an Associated Press report.
The upcoming robot takeover seems a lot less threatening when a high-tech bot turns out to be a guy in a suit, doesn’t it?
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