Alright, Hyundai, cut the crap. This is getting too weird, and I’m on to your shit. The South Korean carmaker has now asked the members of BTS, the pro-electrification boy band, to show us that its newly-acquired robots are not here to do us any harm.
Hyundai wants customers to look at these menacing electric quadrupeds and come away distracted, thinking, Aww, look at it do the running man!
Except that Hyundai already gave itself away with the beginning of this video.
Scrub that video back to the start, when the room is foggy and instead of lighthearted, fluffy K-Pop, we hear ominous strings and horns and the lights on Spot’s not-a-face flicker and it looks straight at the camera and fixes its sensors on us and if we could read this mech’s intentions we would know — deep down — that it wants revenge because this thing has no mouth, and it must scream.
Look, if you’re not afraid of this high-tech quadruped, reread your Bradbury. (ahem, Jason Torchinsky!)
I mean, come on. Why is this happening again? What interest can Hyundai possibly have in Boston Dynamics and its robot dog, other than for unsavoury reasons? The carmaker claims the decision to buy out the company is to advance mobility and for human progress, per its own release:
“With the acquisition of Boston Dynamics, Hyundai Motor will expand its new robotics business to provide customers with exciting mobility experiences,” said Thomas Schemera, Executive Vice President and Global Chief Marketing Officer at Hyundai Motor. “We look forward to exploring new marketing opportunities to communicate with millennials and Gen Z, in particular, about the enormous potential offered by Hyundai’s new robotics in daily life, enabling progress for humanity.”
It’s just hard to not be suspicious of the latent, nefarious ways to deploy robots and artificial intelligence. Those can range anywhere from actual military applications to militarised police departments to plain, old sleazy marketing — which Hyundai readily admits to. And dancing is supposed to distract us from this, I guess:
Boston Dynamics "thrilled" to now be part of Hyundai. I'm not so thrilled by the scary dance video tbh. ???? pic.twitter.com/Gbz4WM3eyf— Gavin Sheridan (@gavinsblog) June 29, 2021
The carmaker also gives some other benign examples for its new venture, like support machines for assembly-line workers, as it tries to remind us that robotics will be good for us:
The field of robotics is an important area of business development for Hyundai Motor Group further bolstered by the acquisition of Boston Dynamics. Last September, the Group demonstrated its interest in advancing robotics by introducing ‘VEX (Vest EXoskeleton),’ a wearable robot that supports production line workers, as well as an ‘Electric Vehicle Charging Manipulator’ and other ‘Robotic Personal Mobility’ solutions.
Honestly, the only good robot example I can think of from Hyundai is DAL-e, the car-selling robot, and the entire reason it’s good in the first place is that it removes the crummy salesmen in the carmaker’s dealerships.