AI-powered robot to be trialed in Japanese train station

The prototype android named "Persuesbot" will help train station security identify troublemakers in the lead up to the 2020 Olympic games


An AI-powered robot named "Persuesbot" – an amalgamation of Greek god Perseus and robot – will begin trials at the end of November 2018 as a robotic security guard in Tokyo's Seibu-Shinjuku Station.

It has been equipped with AI-integrated security cameras capable of detecting suspicious behavior or packages which it will then report directly to the smartphones of station security staff. It will also be able to analyze body language and anticipate aggressive behavior or movements that commonly precede conflict.

Image courtesy Japan Today: Demonstration by "Persuesbot" in press preview in Tokyo

The robot was developed collectively by the Tokyo Metropolitan Industrial Technology Research Institute and Seibu Railway Co., the private company that owns the station where the trial will be conducted. Japanese tech firms Nihon Unisys Ltd., an IT service management company and Earth Eyes, an AI vision camera developer, also helped to build the machine.

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Perseusbot is five-foot-four-inches (1.57 meters) tall, weighs 172 kilograms, can travel at speeds of around 30cm a second and is dexterous enough to patrol over uneven ground and navigate obstacles. It will be tested in Seibu-Shinjuku Station between November 26–30 so its developers can study its movements around the station and its camera's accuracy.

Following the mass street protests in the 2016 Rio Olympics, Toshiro Muto the CEO of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic voiced his concerns: "If I had to choose just one challenge from many it would have to be security," Muto told The Japan Times. "There are many threats of terrorism in the world. It's not just a physical threat, but also the threat of cyberterrorism."

In response to these perceived threats, the Japanese government is considering every tool at its disposal, including robotic security androids such as the Perseusbot. If successful, the robot will be used as an extra layer of support for security services during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. 

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