(ANTIMEDIA) — In the town of Kisarazu in the southwest Chiba Prefecture of Japan, there’s a creepy entity with glowing red eyes skulking the rural countryside. Its name is “Super Monster Wolf,” and it’s a solar-rechargeable robot on loan from the Japan Agricultural Cooperative, which seeks to use a revolutionary robotics innovation to protect the local crops and farms from wild boars.
“Super Monster Wolf” isn’t highly mobile, but it is 65cm long, 50cm tall, covered in realistic looking fur, and equipped with glowing red LED eyes. When approached by an animal — or a very unfortunate wayward human — it can produce 18 types of distressing sounds, including wolf howls, gunshots, and a human voice. Given the success of trial runs in the rice and chestnut fields near Kisarazu City, “Super Monster Wolf” is likely the vanguard of a new generation of robot scarecrows that happen to look like the G’mork from The NeverEnding Story.
There is an interesting backstory to wolves in the region. In 18th-century Japan, it was actually customary for people to greet wolves. Then, according to Motherboard, in around 1870, western ideas of wolf predation seeped into Japanese culture. Soon there was a state-sponsored program and citizens were slaughtering wolves, taking their ears to the local municipal office and collecting a bounty. Wolves went extinct in Japan as a result, and before long, deer, and wild boars became a huge problem for farmers of rice and chestnuts.
It appears technology has come to the rescue, as the robotic wolves have proven themselves more effective (with a control radius of about one kilometer (.62 miles) than an electric fence, according to Chihiko Umezawa of the Japan Agricultural Cooperative. They will soon be mass produced, and their purchase price will reportedly drop from 514,000 yen ($4,840) to ¥200,000, or $1,810 USD on the market.
This is just another sign that AI and robotics may soon revolutionize the agricultural industry. Some scientists even hope to replace natural bee colonies — currently suffering from pesticides, pollution, and climate change — with robotic bees to help pollinate crops.
However, as with all new technologies, with great promise comes great peril. Experts warn that robots can be hacked and weaponized, and last year, Anti-Media reported on DARPA’s plan to use genetic modification to employ plants as surveillance tools.
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