- Title: CHINA: Robots welcome visitors for Beijing Olympics
- Date: 24th July 2008
- Summary: SLATE INFORMATION
- Embargoed: 8th August 2008 13:00
- Location: China
- Country: China
- Topics: Light / Amusing / Unusual / Quirky,Sports
- Reuters ID: LVA72I9BU73MKT74W9NW79HG8K0O
- Story Text: Five Olympic mascot robots now greet visitors at the Beijing airport.
It may not be personal, but it certainly is innovative. Five robots, modelled after the official Olympic mascots, "the five friendlies" or "Fuwa", have been entertaining people at the shiny new terminal in Beijing for more than a week. Designed to express the playful qualities of five little children, the Fuwa were created to embody natural characteristics of four of China's most popular animals -- the Fish, the Panda, the Tibetan Antelope, the Swallow and the fifth is represents the Olympic Flame.
Speaking through a special microphone, the robots have basic conversations with passengers arriving from overseas.
These robots are capable of reciting over 100 sentences in either Chinese or English. They can perform simple greetings in 12 languages, sing Olympic songs, give directions and recommend scenic spots for days out in the city.
They also have handy screens on their 'bellies' showing flight information and information on the city.
It took Gao Qingji and his team from China Aviation University two years to design and build the five robots.
"There are five Olympic mascots, the 'five friendlies'. So we were thinking of designing five mascot robots to combine the Olympics with high-tech technology. We just want to show a warm welcome by placing the mascot robots at the airport--the first stop after coming to our country," said Gao.
The lovable robots have become the most popular airport personnel in recent days, surrounded wherever they go by people eager to talk to them.
"We asked what its name was and if it was a boy or a girl. And that's it, I think. They say different things and most of them are girls I think," said Sindy Huang from the United States.
Many passengers could not resist taking pictures with the talking robots, whose main job will be to greet Olympic teams and delegations before and during the Games.
"I think the mascot robots represent our country. They are so smart, you can take pictures with them or talk to them. They are very good. I like them," said passenger Li Jia.
The games begin on August 8.
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