A crafty robot was able to escape the clutches of scientific research and make a dash for freedom outside a research lab in Perm, Russia on Tuesday.
The robot, named Promobot, was being taught to move around on its own when a worker reportedly left a gate open. Promobot traveled about 164 feet, stopping in a nearby street when its battery ran out, the BBC reported.
Motorists in the central Russian city of Perm were left confused this week when traffic was temporarily halted by a robot called Promobot, which had escaped from a nearby research lab.
“Everything stopped,” Oleg Kivokurtsev, Promobot’s co-founder, tells Digital Trends. “It’s not every day that people meet a robot, I guess. There was a small traffic jam and one person called the police.”
“We were testing the robot when one of our engineers opened the door to come into our office and then forgot to close it again,” Kivokurtsev continues. “With the door open, the robot escaped and made its way to the road.”
When it’s not escaping from its human overlords, Kivokurtsev says that Promobot — short for “Promotional Robot” — is intended to work in customer relations. Approximately 200 similar robots are already in use in countries including Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Ireland, and the Czech Republic. They are employed in expo centers, theaters and business centers. “The idea is that you can ask them a question, such as ‘Where is the food court?’ and they will be able to not only tell you, but actually go there with you.”
Technologically Promobot has a number of clever features, including voice and facial recognition. “You can tell Promobot your name and, next time you come into contact with him, he will greet you by it and remember what you asked,” Kivokurtsev says.
He adds that Promobot can increase sales and customer loyalty. “He is always smiling and is never ill. He’s one of the best robots in his category.”
Now if only his creators could solve that whole pesky “need to escape my human captors as soon as possible” problem!
An alternative theory is that the robot was fed up with its human overlords and decided to end its life in protest by standing in traffic. Maybe it heard about the abusive conditions at Boston Dynamics.
But some Russian media is skeptical, claiming that this was just a clever marketing stunt to garner attention for the humanoid robot. After all, the Promobot company did post a video of the incident to its YouTube channel.
In the video, a police officer rolls up to the spot where the robot is blocking traffic, and a few moments later a man moves Promobot out of the street. Russian media reported that the robot was in the road for approximately 30 minutes before it was retrieved.
According to the company, the robot is designed to talk to people, help them with navigation and answer questions.