Russian TV lauds guy in robot costume as "most modern" technology


Moscow — Russian media say a contraption presented by Russian state television as a high-tech robot was in fact a man in a commercially available robot costume.

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

Forum organizers have said they used Boris to enliven the event, having him dance to a pop song, and they insist there was never any attempt to deceive people into thinking it was actually a robot.

But a crew for Russian state television apparently thought Boris was real, and used footage of him dancing and speaking as an example of Russian technological prowess.

"It's entirely possible one of these (students) could dedicate himself to robotics," one of the Russia-24 anchors said as the Kremlin-run channel showed video of Boris interacting with people at the show. "Especially as at the forum they have the opportunity to look at the most modern robots."

Online Russian news outlet TJournal noted the lack of sensors, human-like movements and other discrepancies.

After the report was ridiculed online, state television returned to the story on Thursday, with the correspondent claiming it was understood all along that Boris was a man in a plastic suit — albeit a good one. According to The Guardian, the "Alyosha the Robot" costume retails for about $3,800.

"I was just completely certain that everyone, just like Father Christmas, would definitely know that it's an actor in a costume, knowing that the whole project was created for children," the Russia-24 anchor said on Thursday.

Regardless of intent, Boris won't likely go down as the most egregious example of Russian "fake news."

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First published on December 13, 2018

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