‘Marketing’ Robot Escapes Russian Training Area, Gets Lost

Promobot, manufactured in Perm, Russia by a company of the same name, is designed for concierge, product promotion and information services duties. Photo courtesy of Promobot

With companies and governments across the world looking to develop the best in next-generation robots, it was only a matter of time before one broke loose and went on walkabout.

Fortunately, the runaway robot of Russia is no Anbot — China’s free roaming, Taser-armed security guard — but something more suited to be your base tour guide.

Promobot, touted by manufacturer Promobot as the “first on the market, completely self-contained ‘live’ robot,” recently escaped from a testing area in Perm, about 700 miles east of Moscow, and wheeled its way into a busy city intersection, confusing and surprising passersby and disrupting traffic, according to Russia Today.

After an engineer left a training area gate open Promobot wheeled out and rolled into town. Photo Promobot

“The robot was learning automatic movement algorithms on the testing ground, these functions will feature in the latest version of the Promobot,” company co-founder Oleg Kivokurtsev told the news agency ura.ru. “Our engineer drove onto the testing ground and forgot to close the gates. So the robot escaped and went on his little adventure.”

According to the company, Promobot is designed to be your all around C3PO ‘droid. But for his Star Wars adventures a robot custom made to for concierge, product sales and information desk roles.

As a military bot, maybe it would replace company clerks.

But given rising tensions between the U.S. and Russia, however, more hawkish elements in Washington may see in Promobot – even with a cartoonish-looking figure more like Disney’s Big Hero Six than The Terminator – as a prototype robo-killer.

But it is obvious Promobot the company still has some work to do on Promobot the robot, since one of the selling points it makes – as shown below in the side-by-side comparison with a human – is that it “will not get confused and stray.”

Promobot versus human worker. The company, also called Promobot, says its robot will not get confused and stray. Well, maybe … Illustration courtesy of Promobot

About the Author

Bryant Jordan
Bryant Jordan is a reporter for Military.com. He can be reached at bryant.jordan@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BryantJordan.