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Japanese town gets a real robocop

Mail & Guardian | April 7 2005

FLASHBACK: Future Police State Use Of ASIMO The Robot?

The safety of a Japanese neighbourhood was on Wednesday put in the hands -- briefly -- of a robot, which became police chief for the day in a campaign to promote safe driving.

T63 Artemis, named after the Greek moon goddess Artemis, helped its subordinate human officers distribute fliers on traffic safety at the train station after its appointment as head of Hakata station and surrounding neighbourhood in the southern city of Fukuoka.

The 157-centimeter (five-foot, two-inch) tall Artemis, which has two arms and weighs 100 kilograms, can go on patrol with the help of a battery, police said.

Locally developed Artemis will enter the record books as the first robot police chief in Japan, where robots are being put to growing use for security.

The World Exposition, a six-month showcase of technology in central Aichi prefecture, has eight security robots on patrol day and night.

A Hakata police spokesperson said the robot chief "sought to attract people's attention," particularly because "robots have been a centrepiece in the World Exposition in Aichi".

Fortunately, the robot was not police chief on March 20, when the Fukuoka area was rattled by an earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale which killed one person and injured hundreds more.