A robot with the face and appearance of a wolf is drawing rave reviews in Japan for striking fear in the hearts of wild boars, successfully driving them out of fields where rice and chestnuts are grown.
Dubbed “Super Monster Wolf,” the 65-centimeter-long robot wolf was developed as the result of a joint effort between Ota Seimitsu, Hokkaido University, and Tokyo Agricultural University, Asahi Television reports. When a sensor on the robot detects a wild boar approaching, it lets loose a terrifying wolf cry that reaches 90 decibels. The mechanical canine shakes its head, sways, and bears its massive teeth to ward off approaching boars. It also has menacing LED-powered red eyes that flash at the agricultural pests. Wolves are the natural predators of boars.
In order to test the solar-powered robot wolves, researchers set them up in chestnut fields in Kisarazu City in Japan’s eastern Chiba prefecture last summer. They then expanded the tests to nine locations nationwide and say that all were effective. In fact, the robots, which are set to go into mass production next month, have reportedly been wildly successful during the testing phase.
The Japan Agricultural Cooperative claims that crop damage noticeably decreased in areas where a Super Monster Wolf was stationed. Farmers who had become accustomed to ceding a percentage of their crops to the boars every year are now hopeful that this new technology could be a valuable pest control tool.
Chihiko Umezawa, association chief of the agricultural cooperative in the area, told Chiba Nippon that each wolf covers an area of around one kilometer. He said they have the potential to be more effective than an electric fence.
There are some concerns about boars becoming accustomed to the wolves, but researchers say the wolf cry and flashing method can be altered to prevent boars from becoming used to them. Yuji Ota, president of the company that manufactures them, said, “There is no talk of getting used to, as it looked like a wolf. There is a natural enemy.”
The robots don’t come cheap. Once they go into production it’s estimated that they will cost $4,840 each. Farmers will, however, have the opportunity to lease the robots, which may be a more cost-effective solution for some.
Watch the Super Monster Wolf in action:
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