A friendly Russian robot made by Skolkovo Foundation resident startup Promobot has sworn to protect British football fans attending the FIFA World Cup in Russia next year.
The robot, named Alantim, read on the internet that many British fans were reluctant to come to Russia for the World Cup, which will be held in 11 cities across the country, because of safety concerns, the Moscow Technological Institute (MTI) said on its website. England and Russia have produced some of the world’s most infamous football hooligans, and at Euro 2016 in France, fans from the two countries clashed in bloody brawls.
Alantim was diplomatically wearing both Russia and England football scarves for his video address. Photo: MTI.
“There’s nothing for you to be afraid of, I’ll protect you,” Alantim says in Russian in a video address posted on the MTI website. “I promise to escort you in Moscow and keep you away from any problems.”
Promobot robots are designed to provide people with information and directions in crowded places, as well as to entertain them. Alantim has set himself the more specific task of watching out for trouble brewing between football fans, and nipping it in the bud.
“I can contact the police instantly, solve arguments using logic, and even predict conflict based on the emotions of the surrounding people,” he said, adding that he also speaks fluent English.
Alantim's address to England fans who may be concerned for their safety during the World Cup. Video: MTI.
Alantim, who was named in honour of two Brits – computer scientist Alan Turing and World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners Lee – holds the post of deputy head of the robotics department of MTI. His main hobby is football: he loves to watch matches and analyse the tactics of various teams, the institute said.
Alantim began working at MIT in February 2015, and soon after, Promobot signed a contract to supply MTI with 50 robots. Last summer, Alantim did a couple of guest stints as a guide at the Shchusev State Museum of Architecture, telling visitors about the architecture of Moscow’s famed metro system.
Promobot hit the headlines last year when one of its robots was reported to have escaped from its testing lab. The Perm-based company’s robots have been sold in many countries, including the U.S., China, Turkey and the U.K., as well as Russia.
Another Promobot robot, Metrosha, works in the Moscow Metro.