Ridicule for Russia’s newest robot, Igorek

Russian company Kalashnikov have released a robot – and it’s not quite what anyone expected.

‘Igorek’ (‘little Igor’, not its official name) was revealed to the public on Monday in Moscow by the company behind the famous AK-47 gun which has sold more than 100 million units worldwide.

The 13-feet (3.96m) tall, 4.5-tonne, manned robot is designed for “carrying out engineering and combat tasks”, according to Kalashnikov, at the ARMY Forum.

The Forum describes itself as the “world’s leading exhibition of arms and military equipment, the authoritative platform for discussing innovative ideas and developments for the armed forces”.

For the moment, however, Igorek is completely immobile.

At a time when world domination by robots can feel uncomfortably close, Russian social media did not hold back in their mocking of the machine.

Online community Lentach asked its followers to begin posting memes of Igorek.

A manipulated image of Russian opposition leader Alexei Nalalny in the arms of Igorek, was also shared.

As robots compete to become smaller, sleeker and smarter, Russians asked why did Kalashnikov make a machine that is large, bulky, and unable to move.

“Someone please give Kalashnikov a link to Boston Dynamics”, wrote one Facebook user, referring to the American engineering company behind Cheetah, a four-footed robot which runs faster than champion sprinter Usain Bolt.

Another posted a picture of a drunk man on all fours, resembling the Cheetah, and joked “Kalashnikov have produced for the first time the human version of its Igorek robot”.

One Twitter user replied to a video of dogs herding sheep in New Zealand saying they would “soon be replaced by the Igorek robot”.

Many suggested similarities between Igorek and robots which made their names in films of the 1980s, including in the original Star Wars trilogy.

In one image, an ED-209 from the 1987 film Robocop asks Igorek, “What are you?”

“I’d like to see Igorek kill itself running into a wall right after the Russian Post drone”, another tweet read, referring to an incident in April when a postal drone crashed into a wall on its maiden flight.

Russian media also responded with a good dose of scepticism to Kalashnikov’s latest development, although none offered an explanation about why the company had made Igorek.

One military expert, quoted in newspaper Kommersant, was quoted as saying the US takes naming its weaponry more seriously than Russia does:

“In the US, for example, if we’re talking about an air carrier, it is definitely going to be called ‘President’, a strategic submarine is called after a state, but Russian weapons are for some reason called with diminutive names [like Igorek].”

Kalashnikov has said it hopes to display an improved version of the robot at the ARMY Forum in 2020.


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