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Westworld turns its freakish real-world robot loose in London ahead of Season 2 premiere

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Apr 18, 2018, 3:02 PM EDT

If you got hooked on the show’s first season, you probably know that being a Westworld fan comes with its own unique anxieties. Well, this real-world encounter with a robot analogue of the show’s androids just shot to the top of that list.

A lucky (or perhaps not so lucky) handful of unsuspecting Londoners were treated to a firsthand gaze straight into the heart of the uncanny valley when promoters unleashed a remarkably lifelike iteration of one of the show’s robot hosts recently at a city pub — and the patrons’ reactions are priceless.

Meet Fred, Westworld’s freakishly realistic robot-man for the world we actually live in. He’s the product, according to Adweek, of a painstaking crafting process from the people at London’s Engineered Arts, otherwise best known as makers of the RoboThespian — an interactive humanoid robot intended for “social interaction, communication and entertainment at public exhibitions and attractions, as well as university research labs.”

NOW TV on YouTube

NOW TV, which streams the show in Britain, set up the gag as a publicity vehicle ahead of Season 2’s debut. The network dropped Fred off at the Prince Albert pub in London, hid some cameras around the place, and turned him loose on unsuspecting patrons. And as you can see in the clip, he freaked them right out.

Fred is based on a real London resident named Tedroy Newell, but he’s far from flesh and blood. Rather, reports Adweek, Fred’s made from robot stuff: his skeleton’s metal, his skin is silicone, and his hair and eyes are acrylic. His words and gestures reportedly were ad-libbed by a hidden puppeteer, lending an extra layer of creepiness to his interactions — particularly when he gets all inquisitive about whether people want to meet their maker.

If you didn’t need more reasons to be unnerved when technology takes on a life of its own as Westworld makes its (reportedly epic) return, then you’ll definitely want to make sure that person sitting next to you on the couch is a living, breathing human when you all sit down to watch. Season 2 of Westworld hits HBO and Britain’s Sky Atlantic on April 22, and will be available for streaming on NOW TV the following day.

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