On the beat with Robi, the robocop


  • Education
  • Sunday, 07 Jan 2018

These youngsters clearly impressed by the talkative Robi, try to mimic the robots pose.

A talkative little robot has been enlisted by police in Hungary to help with presentations in schools and pensioner clubs.

“Hi kids!” said robot “Robi” to a class of primary school children in Szolnok, about 100km east of the country’s capital Budapest. “Some things you need to be careful with when using the Internet ...” he continued in a tinny voice.

About 40cm tall and 20cm wide, the 1.6kg Robi stands on a table, gesturing as he talks.

”It grabs the attention more if a robot is talking,” Robi’s programmer Csaba Erdos, a police educational instructor said.. “It’s a new way of communicating and presenting,” he said.

Robi has been helping out in the Jasz-Nagykun-Szolnok county since May, and Erdos, 38, said there are plans to have similar robots around the country.

Schoolchildren listen intently to a presentation about Internet security given by local police chief, lieutenant colonel Zita Szabo (R) and Robi in a primary school in Szolnok. - AFP
Schoolchildren listen intently to a presentation about Internet security given by local police chief, lieutenant colonel Zita Szabo (R) and Robi in a primary school in Szolnok. - AFP

Most weeks Erdos takes Robi with him to help at presentations to schoolchildren and elderly people on themes like crime prevention, digital security and road safety.

During a break to recharge, after 30 minutes of talking, Robi needed more power. Ten-year-old Milan Markus who was clearly mesmerised by Robi said he hadn’t seen a talking robot before, apart from the Transformers cartoon.“It took a while to get used to his voice but I love the entire experience of watching him in action, he is very clever,” he said. After the talk, the children laughed as they all tried to mirror his robot moves.

Occasionally Robi greets reporters at press conferences, where he gives advice on how to avoid crimes like break-ins. He can even answer questions, “as long as they are pre-programmed,” said Erdos.

Sporting a police logo on his chest, the friendly Robi can help engender trust in the police, Erdos said.

”Robots can be a force for good, helping and supporting people, rather than replacing or threatening them, as they are sometimes portrayed in films, he said. — AFP


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