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Russian state news network mistakes a guy in a costume for ‘advanced robotics’

Source: TJournal

The Russian state news network Rossiya 24 has retracted a report about “one of the most advanced robots in the world” featured at the “Proektoriya” youth forum. The channel’s original story included footage of “Boris the Robot” and narration claiming that some of the students in the audience “might commit themselves to robotics.” In the segment, the narrator also noted that the robot had “already learned how to dance” and he “wasn’t half bad.”

Boris the Robot, however, is just a man in a robot costume. On the website “Robot Show,” the outfit is available for purchase at 250,000 rubles ($3,760). “The design and technical performance of this suit create the almost complete illusion that this is a real robot, and everyone will want a selfie with it,” the manufacturer claims.

Boris was part of the forum’s closing act, and it’s apparent from the footage that organizers weren’t trying to pass him off as a real robot, given that he appeared in a comedy sketch about the quirks of artificial intelligence and robotics (though Rossiya 24 reporters might have missed this due to the near total absence of laughter). After the website TJournal noticed the mistake, the network deleted the report from its YouTube channel.

Update: Rossiya 24 later challenged reports that its correspondent, Arseny Kondratyev, had been fooled by the robot costume, claiming that his narration in the segment was merely playful and perhaps a bit too subtle.

The “Proektoriya” youth forum is staged with support from Russia’s Education Ministry. This year, Education Minister Olga Vasilyeva and Yaroslavl Governor Dmitry Mironov helped open the event. Last year, Vladimir Putin took part.