Bizarre Robotic Monster Wolves That Howl When Approached to Scare off Bears

Doug Williams
 
Chikao Umezawa, head of the agricultural coopetative association JA Kisarazu-shi, shows a wolf-like robot "Super Monster Wolf" to drive away wild animals that cause damages to crops in Kisarazu, Chiba prefecture on August 25, 2017.
The agricultural coopetative association JA Kisarazu-shi introduced the 65cm-long and 50cm-high robot recently on a trial basis which can detect wild animals such as boars and deers with an infrared ray sensor when they approach and intimidates them, flashing the red LED eyes and blaring 48 types of sounds including a wolf growl and human voice.  / AFP PHOTO / Toru YAMANAKA        (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP via Getty Images)
Chikao Umezawa, head of the agricultural coopetative association JA Kisarazu-shi, shows a wolf-like robot "Super Monster Wolf" to drive away wild animals that cause damages to crops in Kisarazu, Chiba prefecture on August 25, 2017. The agricultural coopetative association JA Kisarazu-shi introduced the 65cm-long and 50cm-high robot recently on a trial basis which can detect wild animals such as boars and deers with an infrared ray sensor when they approach and intimidates them, flashing the red LED eyes and blaring 48 types of sounds including a wolf growl and human voice. / AFP PHOTO / Toru YAMANAKA (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP via Getty Images)

According to The Mainichi, Japan’s national newspaper, the Japanese government has deployed some monster robot wolves to try to scare away wild brown bears that have been annoying residents in the town of Takikawa, in Hokkaido City.

 

After a dramatic increase in the number of bear attacks in 2020 (two of them being fatal), the town has had no choice but to use a robotic wolf, with its shaggy fur, red flashing eyes, and bared fangs, to threaten off intruding bears.

Credit: coccochan0213

Credit: coccochan0213

The wolf is able to detect a bear within approximately 30 feet of its infrared motion detectors. When the wolf detects the bear, its eyes begin to flash, its head begins to move and it starts to make loud howling and roaring sounds to warn off any animals entering its surroundings. The same thing also happens when a human is close by, which may not have been the desired outcome.

As reported, this  robotic wolf was designed and created by a company in the town of Naie, in Hokkaido, in a bid to “avoid friction between residents and bears.” It was installed by the Takikawa Municipal Government in September, and it is the first time something like this has ever been used in a residential area.

However, since the town started using these monster-like robots, there have been significantly fewer reports of bear sightings. A person who was connected to the installation of the robot commented, “At the very least, it’s effective in making residents feel at ease.”

The clever robot was developed through a cooperative company alongside Ohta Seikie (a precision-machinery-making company in Naie), the Tokyo University of Agriculture, and Hokkaido University.

The robot’s first release was back in 2016. It resembles a real Japanese wolf, and measures around 90cm tall and 120cm long. The real Japanese wolf species, which used to roam Japan’s central and northern islands, was hunted to extinction over a century ago.

Bear sightings have been at a high in rural areas over the past five years throughout western and northern Japan, according to national broadcaster NHK. In the past, there used to be a maximum of one bear sighting every few years, but since May of this year, there have already been 10 sightings reported.

Credit: coccochan0213

Credit: coccochan0213

The city officials of Takikawa said that the bears become more active and dangerous towards the end of November, as this is the time of year they search for food before going into hibernation.

There may have been a decrease in nuts and acorns in the wild this year, causing the bears to have to venture closer to towns to obtain food, according to local media. The rise in attacks is what has prompted the government to address the problem.

According to Yuji Ohta, the president of robotic wolf manufacturers Ohta Seiki, the robots are sold for about 500,000 yen, which includes the solar panels that keep its batteries charged up. The company has managed to sell over 70 robotic wolves since 2018.

Credit: coccochan0213

Credit: coccochan0213

Currently, 62 of them are being used from Hokkaido to the Southern Islands of Okinawa. Although the robot isn’t able to move on its own at the moment, Yuji Ohta said, “In the future, I would like to have it move like a robot and actually chase away vermin.

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The robots will be used until early November, when the bears go into hibernation for five to seven months. They will be brought back out to do their job again in the spring. Yuji Ota said, “We want to let the bears know, human settlements aren’t where you live, and help with the co-existence of bears and people.”

 
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