Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Woobot of the Week

TOKYO--Burglars beware, robot guards are here.

In an idea straight out of science fiction, robots could soon begin patrolling Japanese offices, shopping malls and banks to keep them safe from intruders. Equipped with a camera and sensors, the ''Guardrobo D1,'' developed by Japanese security firm Sohgo Security Services Co., is designed to patrol along preprogrammed paths and keep an electronic eye out for signs of trouble.

The 109-cm tall robot will alert human guards via radio and by sending camera footage if it detects intruders, fires or even water leaks. Such robots are vital from a business standpoint when considering Japan's aging population, Sohgo Security said. ''In the near future, it is certain that securing young and capable manpower will become even more difficult ... and the security industry will feel the full brunt of the impact,'' the company said in a statement. Around one in five Japanese are now 65 or over and the proportion is expected to rise to one in three by 2040, according to government data. Sohgo Security is negotiating with several clients, and after a trial run hopes to begin offering a robot-assisted security system within a year, the company said.

Pricing has yet to be decided.

Story Copyright © 2005 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

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