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Hi, Robot: machines ubiquitous at Asian Games

Updated: 2023-09-25 07:56
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Left: A 'Digital Human Interaction' screen answers queries at the Games' Main Media Centre. Right: A Rokid employee demonstrates the Hangzhou-based company's augmented reality helmet. [Photo/AFP]

HANGZHOU, Zhejiang province — From autonomous bug zappers to android pianists and driverless ice-cream trucks, machines have taken over — at least at China's Asian Games.

The Games opened Saturday after a one-year delay because of the pandemic with about 12,000 athletes and thousands of journalists, technical officials and spectators descending on Hangzhou.

The city is the unofficial home of China's tech industry, so robots and other mind-boggling gadgets are set to serve, amuse and police visitors.

An automated mosquito trapper roams the vast Games Village, zapping the pests after luring them in by mimicking a human's body temperature and "breathing".

Robot "dogs" that can run, jump and flip over patrol power-supply facilities. Smaller versions dance, while a bright-yellow android plays the piano.

Driverless minibuses are set to shuttle visitors through the nearby city of Shaoxing, where the baseball and softball venues are located.

Athletes can put their reflexes to the test against a table-tennis playing "Pongbot".

At the massive media center, a blushing plastic-and-metal receptionist with a number pad and card slots built into its torso greets customers at a makeshift bank.

Even venues were built with the help of construction robots which organizers say are "very cute, with unique skills".

Summing up how keen China is to push the theme at the Games, the mascots are three humanoid robots — Congcong, Lianlian and Chenchen, whose smiling faces adorn massive signs across Hangzhou and other nearby host cities.

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