President Obama Just Tickled A Giant Robot Giraffe, As You Do

A wonderful, vaguely surreal thing happened at the White House on Wednesday: President Obama tickled a giant robotic giraffe named Russell. To be fair, Russell's pretty impressive. He has a British accent. He can carry up to 30 people. He can play music. And, as Obama said, "The United States has no better friend than the giraffe."

The President met the 17-foot-tall, 2200-pound robot at the first ever White House Maker Faire, an event which began back in 2006 in San Francisco, bringing together over 100 innovators — or "makers"— from across the United States. Students, entrepreneurs and inventors of all sorts gathered on the South Lawn and showed Obama what they had — everything from 3D printers that work in space to a prosthetic foot to shoe-sole chargers.

But it's definitely Russell that took the spotlight — and how could he not? He's a giant, robotic giraffe. Created by Lindsay Lawlor and operated by Russell Pinnington — who's also British, hence the accent — the giraffe managed to charm the president, who rubbed the mechanical animal's sensors.

"I like those ears," the president told Russell, according to BuzzFeed. “Hee hee. That tickles,” Russel told the president.

It's of course not the first time Obama has had a blast with a robot. In fact, it's not even the second. Somehow, the President has rubbed shoulders with a quite a few mechanical beings of one form or another.

Washington Free Beacon on YouTube

When Obama Played Football With a Robot in Japan

Associated Press on YouTube

It was, admittedly, "a little scary," the President said. You're telling us.

When Obama Played Basketball With a Robotic Dummy

The mechanical basketball-thrower was built to research basketball shooting technique. It was exhibited at the White House Science Fair, which, Obama told the audience, "is one of my favorite things all year long." Gaw, Mr. President.

When Obama Hung Out with a Search-and-Rescue Robot in the White House

The thing's pretty incredible. Said the two (teenage!) inventors of the device: "What we built is a two-part machine that’s able to traverse ice and deploy a small, submersible robot into the water to carry out the preliminary search pattern." Casual.

When Obama Used a Mechanical Marshmallow Slinger

The Obama White House on YouTube

OK, not quite a full robot — but nonetheless hilarious. In fact, watching the President catapult a marshmallow into the ceiling of the White House is so funny that the video went viral, back when it was first filmed. Said Obama at the time: "This is great! ... Secret Service isn't happy about this."

When Obama Shared a Stage with Sensabot

RedZoneRobotics1 on YouTube

Back in 2011, when robots were slightly more demure, President Obama stood on stage at Carnegie Mellon with the friendly yellow SensaBot, an impressive machine that basically inspects industrial facilities the way a human would, except that it looks a bit like a Pixar character.

Image: Washington Free Beacon/YouTube