‘Dancing robot’ at Russian tech fair exposed as human in costume

Another picture of the robot posted by MBKh Media slightly revealed the neck of the person in the costume, putting all the speculations to rest.

A Russian state television channel has been left red-faced after filming a showcase of a pioneering robot which turned out to be a man in a suit.

The video was shot at a high-tech show for promising students in the city of Yaroslavl that opened Tuesday, featuring "Boris the Robot".

Other footage from the event showed Boris taking part in banter with people on stage and performing various dances.

Russian state television praised a "hi-tech robot" at a technology forum that was actually a man inside a robot suit.

The state TV company has since claimed that it never suggested Boris was a real robot.

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However, many viewers were left unconvinced by the robot, with the Russian website TJournal posing a series of questions about the robot's performance, including the location of his external sensors and why he made so many "unnecessary movements" while dancing. In the segment, the narrator also noted that the robot had "already learned how to dance" and he "wasn't half bad". For starters, he was nearly perfectly human-shaped and didn't have any external sensors.

At $3,800 each, the Alyosha costume is equipped with a microphone, tablet display and, according to the company, creates the "near total illusion that before you stands a real robot".

A news anchor said: "It's entirely possible one of these [students] could dedicate himself to robotics".

Footage of the robot reportedly disappeared briefly from Russia-24's YouTube channel on Wednesday morning but it came back again a short while later.

When approached for comment by the Guardian for comment the organizers claimed the show was not meant to trick people into believing Boris was a robot but rather that it was a "fun" way to generate interest in Stem fields.

  • Michelle Webb