Jason Derulo Danced With Robots for Super Bowl Pregame Show, Confusing Everyone

Jason Derulo's performance at the Super Bowl pre-show left fans with a lot of questions. The 33-year-old singer took the stage with all the fanfare you might expect, including set dressings and backup dancers. Some of those dancers, however, were four-legged robots that quickly took over the conversation.

Derulo's performance was coordinated with "little robot dogs," as most commenters described them. The robots resembled some of the designs from Boston Dynamics, including Spot and BigDog. They were able to lie flat, stand tall, rise onto their back legs and jump from foot to foot all in perfect sync, complimenting the human backup dancers and Derulo himself. Commenters had a field day with clips of this performance, with many marveling that there wasn't more explanation for the robots and making assumptions for themselves.

Derulo's performance came during the Tiktok Tailgate – a pre-show hosted just outside of State Farm Stadium in Phoenix, Arizona before the Super Bowl itself. It's still not clear who made the robots, how they work or why they were added to Derulo's show. This puzzled fans, as many expected such a prop to come with some heavy-handed promotion from their manufacturers.

While it's not clear if Derulo's robots were designed by Boston Dynamics, the design was clearly similar. This drew a lot of criticism since robots like Spot and BigDog have always drawn ethical questions all along the political spectrum. The manufacturer has highlighted the robot's use in police work and military applications, but critics question whether it's safe to put a machine into situations where it would exercise physical force over a human being – possibly threatening their life.

For this reason, the comments on Sunday afternoon were full of references to The Terminator franchise and its "SkyNet" villain, as well as the Netflix original series Black Mirror. In fact, a 2017 episode of Black Mirror titled "Metalhead" featured robots that looked conspicuously like Boston Dynamics' designs, increasing pressure on the company to find applications outside of the military.

Boston Dynamics discontinued the BigDog and the Spot a few years ago to focus on the Spot Mini – a similar quadrupedal design with different applications. The company has other designs in the works including several meant to work in manufacturing and shipping jobs. Still, if robotics companies hoped to repair their public image with Derulo's performance, the commentary online might be a bad sign.