Robot woman encourages voter turnout in Japan

A humanoid robot was a popular attraction at a department store in Yokohoma, Japan recently as it called for voters to participate in nationwide local government elections.

The robot, named Actroid, appeared in front of the Sogo Department Store in Yokohama’s Nishi-ku.

The Yokohama Municipal Election Administration Commission planned the robot display to educate voters, as turnout for the unified local elections in Yokohama has not exceeded 50 percent since the start of the Heisei era in 1989.

The robot’s eyes and mouth move, along with its cheek muscles, and it even has veins in its legs to make it look real. The robot left at least one customer tying to sort out whether or not it was a real person.

“It’s a real human, isn’t it?” the customer asked.

Actroid was developed by Osaka University and manufactured by Kokoro Company Ltd.  It was first unveiled at the 2003 International Robot Exposition in Tokyo.  

The United States also has used a humanoid robot in recent years to encourage voter turnout.  Al Gore toured the country in 2000 to get residents to head to the polls.  

More info:  Mainichi Daily News article

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