Celebrities and robot dogs on Mars? What could go wrong?
One of the more intriguing diversions hitting the airwaves and streaming landscape this summer is Fox's "Stars on Mars," in which a group of 12 minor celebrities and former superstar athletes compete in a "Survivor"-like elimination competition at a simulated Martian habitat colony in the barren deserts of Southern Australia.
"Star Trek" legend William Shatner serves as the series' Mission Control host issuing tasks and assignments to the dozen "celebronauts" that include Richard Sherman, Marshawn Lynch, Natasha Leggero, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Adam Rippon, Ronda Rousey, Tom Schwartz, Tinashe, Porsha Williams, Tallulah Willis, Ariel Winter and Lance Armstrong.
So far, the unlucky contestants eliminated as of June 26 are Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Tallulah Willis, and Richard Sherman. But the main attraction seems to be the show's fascinating RADDOG 2LE mechanical mascots provided by the AI-based robotics and security company, RAD, a subsidiary of AITX .
We spoke with AITX/RAD CEO Steve Reinharz on how this connection happened and how these robo-stars have become fan favorites (Sorry Marshawn!), especially in the latest chapter where RADDOGs were raced to see which techno-pup was the fastest.
"It was a contest between two RADDOGs. One of the RADDOGs was controlled by a celebrity and the other one was controlled by 'AI,'" Reinharz told Space.com. "It of course wasn't controlled by AI, it was controlled by one of our guys, but the celebrities didn’t know about it. So they had this race and our guy had a connectivity issue and the dog slips and falls and the celebrity wins the race. Fox did a great job on the production and it's very entertaining how they assembled the footage.
"RADDOG didn't have a presence in the first episodes. In Episode 3 we had RADDOG introduced to the cast and they took him on a walk and it was very funny. Episode 4 is where RADDOG got to hang out with the crew. There were two RADDOGs as opposed to just one and they got to race them. From what I've heard from Fox there is a much greater role for RADDOG in three of the upcoming episodes."
It's not surprising that these advanced security robots have been scene-stealers, especially with recent news of AI's march forward and investors piling into AI stocks.
"RADDOG for us is the intelligence package, the backpack," Reinharz explained. "The quadruped itself, its body, is on a Unitree mobility platform and before that we were working with Ghost Robotics. We're going to put RADPAK on a zillion different mobility platforms. I'll put it on SPOT. I'll put it on anything. It's like getting the car without any of the interior or radio or steering wheel or controls. Just the motor, wheels, and body. It's super stripped down when we get it.
"Fox originally reached out to us and asked if they could use our robotic dog in the sequence and we said, 'For sure.' We shared costs on the production so it's not product placement. We sent a guy down there to Australia for five weeks with five robo-dogs to manage them for the production. He had a blast and loved being part of the crew in that little opal mining town. It went fast. Within a few weeks we had a guy and dogs on a plane headed down to Australia. That's typical Hollywood."
"Stars on Mars" premiered on Fox on June 5, 2023 and runs through August 21. The series airs each Monday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox and next day on Hulu.