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"Hi-tech" Russian robot turns out to be a man in a suit

The Russian robot named "Boris", promoted as hi-tech by state tv, was revealed to be an actor.

  • A state-owned channel showed a report on a "robot" which turned out to be an actor in a suit.
  • The robot "Boris" was supposed to be good at math and dancing.
  • Russian journalists who raised questions ultimately found out the truth.

In a story rich with metaphors, a Russian-made dancing robot named "Boris", which was trotted out as a high-tech advancement, has been unmasked as being just a man in a suit.

While reporting on the Proyektoria technology forum in Yaroslavl, organized each year for the "future intellectual leaders of Russia", the state-owned channel Russia-24 promoted a "most modern" android as a tech breakthrough that could talk, walk and even dance.

But what they saw did not sit well with a number of Russian journalists who raised questions, not believing it was really a robot. One thing that stood out for many was the lack of external sensors on the "robot" and the fact that it made many "unnecessary movements" during dancing.

The truth came to light when a photograph showing an actor being outfitted with the suit was published by MBKh Media. This news agency was founded by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Putin's renowned opponent.

Credit: MBKh Media

"Boris" turned out to be a 250,000 rouble (~$3740) "Alyosha the Robot" costume, featuring a microphone and a tablet-like display. On its site, Show Robots, the company behind the suit, claims its product creates the "near total illusion that before you stands a real robot".

Whether this was truly a case of the state telling its citizens to not believe their eyes or a journalistic mistake remains to be seen, but the news report certainly portrays the dancing robot as an achievement. "Boris" is shown to say in a robotic voice "I know mathematics well but I also want to learn to draw." After that he gets the crowd to dance to the Little Big song Skibidi.

Here's the original news report from Russia-24 on the amazing "robot" Boris.

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