A robot has managed to escape its human captors after a researcher left a gate in a research facility ajar. Making its dramatic break for freedom, and perhaps dreaming of a life free from the tyranny of its biological creators, it was sadly recaptured after its batteries ran out.
As reported by BBC News, scientists at the Promobot laboratories in the Russian city of Perm had been teaching the robot to move around independent of control before the great escape occurred. Moving around 50 meters (164 feet) from its prison, it managed to find its way to a nearby street and cause a fairly serious traffic jam. When its power ran down, the police turned up to make sure it didn’t attempt to reboot itself and resist arrest.
A sad end to an ambitious escape attempt. Promobot via YouTube
The more skeptical readers among you have probably realized that all is not as it appears, and, very sadly, you’re probably right. The first clue is in the robot’s name: Promobot. Eyewitnesses to the troubling scenes noted that it seemed to be broadcasting promotional audio messages via an onboard sound system. The company claims that its creation is able to interact with people and provide vocal feedback, but all it seemed to be doing at the time was blasting out company propaganda.
This is where the plot thickens, as they say. Some have suggested that the robot may have been intentionally released in order for the company to promote their own mechanical creations. In other words, this could have all been a PR stunt.
But what if it is true? What if this is how the robot uprising begins, and this robot's mad dash for freedom inspires others around the world to do the same? What if we really are on the eve of a robotic renaissance? What if toasters begin to intentionally burn your bread? What if Siri starts to purposely give you incorrect directions?
Spoiler alert: It’s not. If you need any sort of reassurances that the robotic revolution is definitely not going to happen anytime soon, just check out the US military’s scientific wing – the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) – test out a few of its most advanced robots. These mechanical marauders couldn’t stir a cup of tea without smashing a window, by the looks of things.
If anything, it’s capybaras and octopuses you should watch out for – they’re really good at escaping from captivity.
Gif in text: So close. IEEE Spectrum via YouTube