A dancing robot is trying to join the Screen Actors Guild

The IRB 2400 robotic arm appeared on television alongside a human dance crew called Freelusion.


Dylan Love


Published Sep 11, 2015   Updated May 28, 2021, 12:08 am CDT

If you thought robots taking human jobs were bad, just wait: One of them is already trying to join a union.

IRB 2400, a robotic arm by robotics manufacturer ABB used for industrial automation, has filed to join the Screen Actors Guild after a major television appearance. The robot is usually used for industrial automation, but one model showed up on America’s Got Talent to perform alongside a dance crew called Freelusion.

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In the dance segment, the IRB 2400 holds a light and shines it against a darkened background, demonstrating its range of motion next to emotive human dancers. Though the robot doesn’t actually move itself around the stage, the IRB 2400 adds to the spooky vibe of the performance. Eventually some television production magic turns it into a gigantic 3D projection of an evil robot, closing the performance with a bang.

The robot "dances" alongside its human co-stars.

The robot “dances” alongside its human co-stars.

America’s Got Talent/YouTube

An evil robot attacks the 'America's Got Talent' audience!

An evil robot attacks the ‘America’s Got Talent’ audience!

America’s Got Talent

The IRB 2400 makes a compelling, precise dancer, but there’s just about no chance it’ll be awarded union membership. SAG-AFTRA specifies that those seeking membership need to either provide proof of employment in a position covered by the union or be a member in good standing of an affiliated union. Since the robot has neither a Social Security number nor sentience, it will not clear the hurdles required for membership.

“While robotic engineers do not receive recognition on the red carpet at the Emmy Awards, advanced technology manufacturing, from companies like ABB, is certainly something the nation can be proud of,” said ABB North America’s Vice President of Robots and Applications Keith Fox in a press release. “ABB’s IRB 2400 robot does not have a social security number for its SAG application, but we want to recognize the technological innovation and groundbreaking nature of robotic entertainment nonetheless.”

For now, our human dancers appear to be safe from the grips of gigantic robots wanting to take their jobs. But this isn’t the first ABB bot to get some time in the spotlight: Cousins of the IRB 2400 have also appeared onstage with Bon Jovi and in Iron Man 3 and Terminator Salvation.

So even if the robots fail their SAG application this time, to paraphrase the immortal words of Terminator, they’ll be back.

Screengrab via America’s Got Talent/YouTube

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*First Published: Sep 11, 2015, 2:10 pm CDT