A “high-tech robot” shown on Russian state television has turned out to be a man in a robot suit, bloggers have discovered.
Russia-24 praised the ersatz android during coverage of a youth forum dedicated to robotics, boasting that “Robot Boris has already learned to dance and he’s not that bad”.
But sharp-eyed bloggers were dubious. The Russian website TJournal listed questions about the robot’s performance: Where were Boris’s external sensors? Why did the robot make so many “unnecessary movements” while dancing?
Also: “Why does the robot look like a person would fit perfectly inside of it?”
Later, photographs of the “robot” posted on social media showed the very visible neckline of the actual person managing the suit.
‘Boris’ turned out to be a costume called Alyosha the robot made by a company called Show Robots.
The £3,000 costume, equipped with microphone and tablet display, creates the “near total illusion that before you stands a real robot”.
A photograph published by MBKh Media, the news agency founded by Putin opponent Mikhail Khodorkovsky, appeared to show the actor in the robot suit ahead of Tuesday’s forum in Yaroslavl, a city about 150 miles north-east of Moscow.
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The organisers of the Proyektoria technology forum, held each year for the “future intellectual leaders of Russia,” did not try to pass off the robot as real, the website reported.
But whether by mistake or design, the state television footage did just that.
“It’s entirely possible one of these [students] could dedicate himself to robotics,” an anchor reported breathlessly, accompanied by footage of Boris the robot. “Especially as at the forum they have the opportunity to look at the most modern robots.”
Then, a very robotic voice rang out.
“I know mathematics well but I also want to learn to draw,” Boris the robot said, before dancing to the Little Big song Skibidi with an MC.
On Wednesday morning, the television report briefly disappeared from Russia-24’s YouTube channel. But by early afternoon it was accessible again.
State-run Channel One was forced to apologise last week for a fake report that presented a young Ukrainian man complaining about progress since the country’s Euromaidan revolution five years ago. The man turned out to be Belarusian, and told RFE/RL that he was “totally ashamed” for taking part in the report.