Have you seen that viral video of a robot getting its ass kicked by humans? The robot is forced to perform a variety of agility drills and gets hit with a hockey stick, enduring quite a bit of abuse before the robot finally pulls a gun on its human tormentors. But the video is completely fake—well, the one with the gun is fake.
The fake robot video has accumulated millions of views on YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram and was created by the visual effects team at L.A.-based Corridor Digital, which produces viral marketing films and graphics for video games. There are quite a few clues that this robot uprising video is fake, but it’s easy to see why so many people think it’s real as the short film gets edited down and shared without context.
The Corridor crew was inspired by very real videos that have been released by robotics company Boston Dynamics in recent years. Corridor even put a parody name in the lower-right corner as an homage to Boston Dynamics. They call themselves “Bosstown Dynamics.”
Just how close is the Corridor video to the real thing? Here’s a real Boston Dynamics video from February 2016 where Atlas the robot gets a package smacked out of its hands and is violently shoved in a number of ways:
Compare that with a clip from the fake video that’s currently going viral where we see an almost identical robot playing catch with a package before getting bashed repeatedly with a hockey stick:
Or, as another example, take a look at this Boston Dynamics video from October 2018 that shows the real Atlas robot jumping over logs before nimbly skipping up some stairs:
The fake version created by Corridor has its fake robot balancing on some boxes while humans chuck balls at the poor thing:
The real thing is barely stranger than the computer-generated parody, right?
By the end of the video by Corridor, the fake robot is getting bullwhipped and shot with a gun. It’s even been downgraded to a mere robot butler, serving cupcakes.
At this point in the fake video, the robot decides that it’s had enough and turns the tables, pointing the gun at its human bullies. And most people online seemed to be cheering for the robot, whether they believed the video was real or not.
Corridor made an instructional video for YouTube that shows how they pulled off the fake video, and it includes the dissolving shot below. If you look closely, you can see the actor who played the vengeful bot.
As you can see, the animators used motion capture technology and added the robot in later. You can also see that the hockey stick guy is pulling his punches so that he doesn’t harm the human actor, whereas the real Boston Dynamics videos didn’t have to do that. Atlas is a real robot without human feelings, after all. So far at least.
Thankfully, the real Boston Dynamics robot can’t fire a gun. Or, if it can, the company has been smart enough not to tell the public.
The U.S. military has been developing robotic weapons for some time, and they know just how concerned the average American is about land-based death robots. The real lesson from Corridor’s fake robot video might be just how far we’ve come in real life over the past decade. Even the fakes can’t beat some of the moves we’re seeing from the real Atlas these day.
Atlas can do backflips, for fuck’s sake. I can’t do a backflip. And even if you’re a human who can do a backflip, you have reason to be worried. The robot warrior of the future won’t necessarily hesitate to fire when it’s carrying a gun—and that might be the most unrealistic aspect of Corridor’s video. When the robots do take up arms with vengeance in their artificial eyes, I don’t think they’ll just march us out of our workplaces. We won’t even know what hit us.
To be clear, it will be bullets. The millions of bullets will be the thing that hits us.