Tokyo Tower has been feeling a little sorry for itself since it lost the Japan’s-tallest-structure title to Tokyo Skytree in May. In a bid to attract more tourists to the 54-year-old observation tower, a new robot has been introduced to meet and greet visitors.
Tawabo (from ‘tower’ and ‘robot’) isn’t just any old robot though. This one can speak no less than four languages – Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean – which should come in handy seeing that the tower receives around 100,000 overseas visitors a year.
As for looks, Tawabo can best be described as a stocky version of the tower, with its similar orange and white color scheme, and pointy top. Its computer-monitor face appears to display a smile most of the time, though information about the tower and its surroundings is also shown on the screen.
Unveiled on the observation deck in a special ceremony this week, Tawabo received a certificate of employment, after which he told the gathered press and visitors, “I want to learn from other employees so that I can be hospitable and greet customers.”
With a height of 160cm (5’3”) and weighing in at a hefty 400lb (180kg), let’s hope Tawabo is free from any malfunctioning mishaps, as an out-of-control tank hurtling about the top of Japan’s second tallest structure would only end in tears.
The 333-meter-tall (1,092 ft) tower usually receives around three million visitors a year, though with the opening of Tokyo Skytree across town – which at 634 meters (2,080 ft) is almost twice the height of its little brother – Tokyo Tower will be hoping it can maintain those numbers.
Perhaps the prospect of meeting a super-intelligent quadrilingual robot called Tawabo might pull in a few extra punters….