CES 2019

Meet Teslabot, The Robot That Was Apparently Ran Down by a Tesla

During CES 2019, Promobot, a Russian manufacturer of robotic assistants, made one of the most noticeable and controversial announcements.

The company issued a press release saying that Tesla had hit and destroyed their robot, ruining their presence at the renowned show. Of course, many of you called their bluff online, making us go in search for answers. Oleg Kivokurtsev, co-founder Promobot, agreed to speak up about the entire debacle.

Apparently, it all started with a Promobot on the loose, which the Tesla vehicle didn’t recognize in time and ran over. Oleg admitted “it was their fault” for not keeping the robot off the streets. The co-founder then said (trying to keep a straight face and failing) that they gave up on contacting the police and instead, took the Promobot down for repairs.

Did Elon Musk contact them to apologize? Not yet, but since “he is a busy man”, that is understandable in Oleg’s book. We played along with their prank* and found out that the poor Promobot was watching the convention from backstage, although thanks to its VIP status, at least it got a name.

“[Teslabot] would be a very sarcastic name”, Kivokurtsev joked. Yue got a chance to see it upclose, while the rest of us watched the rest of its brothers and sisters dance and make small talk with the visitors.

Promobots work as cops, masseurs or even sex shop employees

How are Promobots capable of sensing your mood and adjusting their reactions accordingly? Oleg told us they have something called EQ, an emotional intelligence possible thanks to neural networks trained in different scenarios.

At the moment, they are using neural networks in three directions. For one, the robots can recognize faces “with more than 80% accuracy”. Secondly, they can recognize speech, after being trained for “more than 100,000 hours” with this goal in mind. Lastly, Promobots can learn certain information and give answers when they are prompted to do so.

Technology is not stealing jobs, it is producing new ones

Thanks to these abilities, Promobots can work efficiently as cops, supermarket assistants, masseurs or even sex shop employees. Surprised by their versatility, we asked Promobot whether they faced backlash for making machines that could one day take humans’ jobs.

Oleg Kivokurtsev did not hesitate one bit before answering with an analogy: “We should remember [that] in the 18th century the automatic printing machine was invented. Today, in each office, we can see a printer. Technology is not stealing jobs, it is producing new ones.”

Does Oleg have a point? What do you think?

*to all of you who asked these days, yes, we did know it was all a joke

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