Russian state television covered a robotics forum this week. Whilst the whole forum – aimed at younger people getting into robotics – looks pretty cool, the part that caught the eye of Russia 24 was a freakishly human-like robot called Boris.
Boris was shown on stage with co-hosts using dance moves so realistic that your dad would proudly use them at a wedding. Russia 24 told its viewers that the robot “has already learned to dance and he’s not that bad,” the Guardian reports.
Boris, called “the country’s most modern robot” by the channel, also held a conversation with conference hosts, telling the audience “I know mathematics well but I also want to learn to draw”.
Later on the robot is shown being interviewed in the studio by a host of the show, again using astonishingly realistic movements.
If this robot is what Russia 24 reported, it would be an astonishing advance in robotics and a huge leap into the uncanny valley. It even looks pretty much the exact same shape as a human.
Before you buy yourself a bunker and join the robot-fighting resistance, here’s where it turns out that Boris isn’t a robot at all. It’s essentially the plot of the Simpsons episode.
Russian website TJournal investigated, after becoming suspicious of the video. “How did Russian scientists get the finished robot so quickly, without publishing any intermediate results?” they asked, and why is it shaped like it is a robot suit with a man inside it, rather than a hinged machine?
In what can only be a direct homage to the episode where Homer dresses up as a robot to impress Bart by fighting robots on Robot Wars, it turns out the reason Boris looks like he’s a human in a robot suit is because he is a human in a robot suit.
Photos tweeted from the conference showed very clearly that the robot had a human neck, which isn’t anything like the classic “bits of wire and metal” that you’d usually find inside a robot. Even the really advanced ones.
The forum itself say that they hadn’t claimed that the Boris was anything other than a man in a very expensive costume, the BBC reports. Quite why Russia 24 portrayed the “robot” as real is unclear, as they have yet to release a statement.