On May 3, 2023, a video went viral that appeared to show a robot doing military drills. In the video, the robot seems to shoot guns at targets, cross a few hurdles, engage in combat, and even put the gun down when a human target faces him at gunpoint. The robot also gets beaten up and pushed around by its human handlers.
This is not an authentic video of a robot engaging in military drills. The robot was artificially rendered using computer-generated imagery (CGI), based on a live performance by a man in a costume before visual effects were employed to change his appearance.
The original video was posted in October 2019 by Corridor, a production company, and was titled "New Robot Makes Soldiers Obsolete."
A few days later Corridor posted another video showing the creative process behind the making of "New Robot Makes Soldiers Obsolete," admitting that the robot was made using visual effects. The behind-the-scenes video, titled "Combat Robots: VFX Before & After Reveal" shows the robot carrying out military drills, but the bottom right video shows that the robot was actually played by a man in a suit whose appearance was then digitally edited to make him look like a robot.
Another behind-the-scenes video titled "We Used CGi to Fake Military Robots" gave more detail on how they managed to create a robot. The video also mentions Boston Dynamics, a robotics design company that has designed real robots that are able to dance and do backflips, among other skills.
On camera, the video creators discussed whether or not Boston Dynamics' robots were eventually going to end up as combatants. One of them asked, "What is the military testing version of Boston Dynamics look like?" They also joked that they would create their version of these robots and call the production, "Bosstown Dynamics 2."
We have often encountered questions from our community about whether certain videos of robots are CGI or real. In the past, we fact-checked a CGI robot supposedly demonstrating martial arts skills that was being falsely passed off as a Boston Dynamics creation. We also tracked down the origins of a viral video of (real) dancing robots that were, in fact, Boston Dynamics creations.
While companies like Boston Dynamics have created robots with impressive physical skills, the above video is a clear example of how robots depicted using computer-generated visual effects can easily be mistaken for the real thing.