'Super Monster Wolf' a success in Japan farming trials
A robot wolf designed to protect farms has proved to be such a success in trials that it is going into mass production next month.
The "Super Monster Wolf" is a 65cm-long, 50cm-tall robot animal covered with realistic-looking fur, featuring huge white fangs and flashing red eyes, Asahi Television reports.
It's been designed to keep wild boar away from rice and chestnut crops, and was deployed on a trial basis near Kisarazu City in Japan's eastern Chiba prefecture last July.
When it detects an approaching animal, its eyes light up and it starts to howl, Asahi TV says. Its manufacturers say the robot wolf uses solar-rechargeable batteries and has a range of howl noises so that animal threats don't get used to it.
The Japan Agricultural Cooperatives say that crop losses have noticeably decreased in areas where the Super Monster Wolf has been present. Beforehand, farmers around Kisarazu were resigned to giving up at least part of their crops to wild boar every year.
Speaking to the Chiba Nippo news website, Chihiko Umezawa of the agricultural cooperative says that the device has an effective radius of about one kilometre, suggesting it is more effective than an electric fence.
Now, the robot wolf is going into mass production, with units costing about 514,000 yen ($4,840; £3,480) each, but there are options for farmers to pay a far cheaper monthly lease on a wolf instead.
Reporting by Tae-jun Kang, Alistair Coleman
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