Robocars & Robots Collide—Literally—at Vegas CES 2019

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Perhaps jealous of the insane 12 months that was 2018, this year has wasted no time in embracing the strange.

Enter the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), an annual showcase for burgeoning technology held in Las Vegas each January.

While on the surface, the event was universally panned for being boring (so boring that the tech fair’s top prize for innovation went to a veggie burger), just outside its gates was a true flash of the future we’re apparently bent on creating.

The first known instance of cyborg-on-cyborg violence went down on the city’s Paradise Road not far from the convention when a self-driving Tesla Model S ran over a robot.

Welcome to 2019, y’all.

The rentable robot, a $1,000-per-day humanoid/business assistant produced by Russian company Promobot, was clipped by the car after it apparently wandered away from its fellow androids while en route to the show, like so many curious ducklings breaking off from the brood.

The car was reportedly in autonomous mode at the time of the incident, though there was a rider inside at the time. It’s unclear why he didn’t steer away from the wayward machine.

The Tesla continued to drive for several seconds after the collision, which caused the Promobot to topple onto his side, apparently causing irreparable damage.

Harrowing (not really) video footage of the incident exists, proving that the story truly is stranger than fiction. But if the video itself weren’t weird enough, the backlash it has sparked surely is.

The picture-perfect angle and serendipitous timing of the tape has caused many to question the validity of the accident, calling it little more than a PR stunt—albeit a successful and highly entertaining one.

Indeed, it’s not the first time Promobot has found itself in the headlines for its runaway robots. An earlier model allegedly escaped from its laboratory, causing havoc—and traffic jams—on the streets of Russia in 2016.

Regardless of the accident’s origin, however, it seems Promobot can count the incident as a win. At worst, it’s generated plenty of press for the company. And at best, it’s proved that Promobots can flop like a champ, priming the androids to take over yet another human job: international soccer superstar.

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