Last week, a robot was “killed” by a self-driving Tesla. Many are considering this to be an over the top public relations move.
The accident occurred ahead of the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). A humanoid robot manufactured by the Russian company Promobot stepped out of line into the parking lot roadway on its way to where it was going to be displayed.
As it moved from its path, it was struck by a Tesla Model S that was driving in autopilot mode. Promobot said the damage was irreparable and the robot could not be put on display. Parts of its body, head, arm mechanisms, and movement platform were destroyed.
“There was nobody there, no men, no cars,” said George Caldera, the passenger in the Tesla. “I switched this Tesla into a self-driving mode, and it started to move. And wow! A robot on the track!”
There are some who believe that the crash may have been staged, however. It is worth noting that Tesla cars do not have a self-driving mode. Instead, they have an autopilot feature which is designed to aid drivers on the highway. Furthermore, the driver must remain in control of the car and would be unlikely to function as well on roads that are not well-marked, such as a parking lot.
Because of the clear negligence by the driver and the fact that video evidence only shows the robot being struck but not entering the road, many feel that it may be a set up. However, it is still unknown if it is to promote the name of Promobot or to tear down the reputation of autonomous vehicles.