Recently Anti-Media covered a strange story of a self-learning robot escaping its testing area in the Russian city of Perm. A few days later, the same robot, a ‘Promobot’ (promotional robot), escaped again. The same robot made its third getaway, and this time, it was arrested at a political rally in Moscow.
Reports suggest Promobot was conducting a survey and “recording voters’ opinions” in Moscow on behalf of Russian parliamentary candidate Valery Kalachev. Evidently, that was enough to warrant an arrest.
A spokesman commented:
“Police asked to remove the robot away from the crowded area, and even tried to handcuff him. According to eyewitnesses, the robot did not put up any resistance.”
Was the Promobot commissioned to do some kind of polling for a Russian political candidate? We’ve reached out to the Promobot company for comment and will update if we get an answer. If the robot was supposed to be outside at the rally — which one has to assume, otherwise it suddenly polling people about a political candidate is exceptionally bizarre — it didn’t really escape. Was the entire point, as many have speculated, simply to gain attention? After all, it is a ‘promotional robot.’
Promobot’s last publicized job was playing Pokémon Go in Siberia, where a Russian coding entrepreneur programmed an Android emulator into the robot and set it loose to gather Pokémon.
The Promobot website says the following (in somewhat poorly translated Russian):
“(Promobot) is designed to work in areas of high concentrations of people in which the robot helps people with navigation, answers any questions, translates promotional materials and remembers everyone with whom had to communicate.
“Promobot attract maximum audience of the advertised product, and also excludes people from this process, because it works independently. Suffice it to start the robot, and then the robot will independently recognize people, to offer them to promote products and advise on predetermined topics.”
Version 3 of the Promobot is coming soon, according to the website. And maybe that’s what the “arrest” on Wednesday was all about. Of course, even if these events are staged, the setting loose of robots on crowded streets as marketing stunts is probably worthy of remark.