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Robot manufacturer Boston Dynamics came up with a special marketing gag for the new year which gained attention among netizens. The company had a few of its robots take to the floor to “Do You Love Me?” by The Contours, a song that featured in the film “Dirty Dancing”. Viewers of the video will be amazed at how fluidly and professionally the androids move in time. Their performance serves several purposes simultaneously: it humanises soulless machines, makes them appear likeable and helps the frequently held fear of these automata evaporate. The saying here goes, “If it dances, it can’t be a bad robot.” At the same time, the impressive capabilities of the “Atlas”, “Handle” and “Spot” models are demonstrated in a playful fashion.

The clip of the dancing robots, released as a New Year’s greeting, has so far drawn more than 24 million clicks. Even with all this groove, it cannot be forgotten that robotics projects often serve military purposes. Fears about combat robots like the Terminatorhave in no way abated, as a somewhat older video clip shows. In the parody (with CGI-animated robots similar to those from Boston Dynamics), harmless androids are turned into combat machines that nothing can seem to stop. This video also portrays how closely fear and fascination can be related.

Boston Dynamics, from Waltham in the US state of Massachusetts, has done research into robotics since 1992 and is considered one of the world’s most advanced robot companies. The firm’s work with the US Department of Defense became a politically sensitive topic when Google acquired the company in 2013. Many people saw a problem in combat-ready robots being combined with Google’s knowledge. After being sold to Japanese tech investor Softbank, South Korean carmaker Hyundai purchased Boston Dynamics in December 2020 for roughly USD 920 million.

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