Friday, March 7, 2003

On to interesting and warmer places, and a bit on robots

I've got a thousand things to do today and my next post will be from oh-so-much-warmer-than-here Austin, Texas. I'll be attending SXSW and no doubt meeting lots of interesting people. If you see me, please come say hello!

Until then, check out this article:

Wataru Aso dreams of a day when robots are allowed to roam the streets freely, going about their business without a second glance from passing humans. As governor of Japan's Fukuoka prefecture, he wants to make the prefectural capital of Fukuoka City the place where that dream becomes a reality. The governor has submitted a proposal to Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to create Japan's first robot-friendly zone and with it further his bid to make Fukuoka, which has a population of 1.4 million and is Japan's eighth largest city, the center of the country's growing robotics industry.

"You can build a robot that can do wonderful things in the lab but is useless on the street," said Shin Furukawa, director of corporate planning at Tmsuk. "Once you know their limits, you can find ways to overcome them." Furukawa has already taken one of his robots out for a brief excursion despite its questionable legal status, he said. From that experience he was able to gather a little information. But what was the biggest lesson learned on the mean streets of Fukuoka? "Kids kick robots," he said. "We have to make the bottom part of their structure a lot stronger."

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