This Robot Got Fed Up With Its Job and Ran Into Traffic, Sort Of

Footage of a runaway robot is taking the internet by storm: but what made it take off in the first place? 

Promobot Labs

Artificial intelligence has advanced to the point where at-home robot assistants are now available to purchase. With that in mind, this week’s A.I. news comes out of Russia, where one such robot recently escaped its laboratory and ran directly into traffic. Designed to interact with humans by answering questions or giving directions, the Promobot V2 was learning how to move independently when it took the task to heart and rolled right out of its laboratory after one engineer forgot to shut a gate.

Promobot, located in Perm, Russia, designs robots to navigate through crowds (such as those at theme parks or events) to answer guest questions, but can — as its name suggests — serve as a means for promotion, with built-in loudspeakers designed to attract a crowd. For this particular reason, Russian Media is accusing the company of pulling a PR stunt.

In total, the robot was on the run for about 40 minutes, which might be a little disconcerting for some, but also begs the question: where did it think it was going?

The answer may rest on the company’s blog, which released an all-new blog post detailing the daring escape in the most pitch-friendly way possible. But while this might be a PR stunt, it’s a pretty interesting demonstration of technology that we can expect stateside sooner rather than later. CalTech most recently released a study on robots and the possibility of crowd navigation, making it clear that the technology itself had room to improve, as the technology they tested against had some “unsafe” reactions versus their own A.I.

For now, though, it’s fun to just empathize with the narrative of an excited robot testings its limits while learning how to navigate oncoming traffic in one of the wildest places to drive a car on the planet.

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