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Mascots and javelin carriers: Tokyo adds robots to Olympic roster

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A roster of Olympic robots that will do everything from welcoming visitors to transporting javelins has been unveiled as Tokyo works to showcase Japanese technology at next year’s Summer Games.

Japan hopes the 2020 Olympics will be a chance to put its tech sector back on the map after years in which the country’s reputation as an industry leader has flagged.

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Auto giant Toyota has a roster of five robots with different roles to play, from cutesy renditions of the Olympic mascots to a staid transport bot.

Undoubtedly the most appealing are the toddler-sized versions of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic mascots, the futuristic Miraitowa and Someity.

Blue- or pink-checked, with huge eyes and pointy ears, the mascot robots have multiple joints and arms which can be remotely controlled.

And while the pint-sized pair can’t move or talk, a camera inside their heads helps them interact with spectators and athletes, said Tomohisa Moiradaira, an official responsible for Tokyo 2020 robot development at Toyota.

“Thanks to the camera, the robots can recognise people’s expressions and respond back,” he told reporters.

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“If a person moves away it will look sad.”

The mascot’s “feelings” are reflected in its eyes: they can display hearts or stars depending on emotions.

Toyota has suggested the mascot robots could welcome athletes and spectators, and possibly help engage children with the Games.

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Significantly less cute — but slightly more practical — is the company’s Field Support Robot, a suitcase-sized automaton on wheels that will help Olympic staff.

It is capable of following staff, while avoiding obstacles, and can be loaded with items like javelins or discusses, helping “reduce the amount of time needed to retrieve items as well as reduce the amount of staff labour for events”, Toyota said.

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Other offerings include robots designed to support people in wheelchairs or deliver food to spectators.

For those who can’t attend the Games, there’s the T-TR1, effectively a human-sized narrow screen on wheels equipped with a camera.


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Michael Avenatti says he has El Chapo’s former jail cell — which the drug dealer described as ‘torture’: report

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Attorney Michael Avenatti, the colorful attorney who came to prominence representing Stormy Daniels against Donald Trump, is unhappy with his jail conditions.

On Monday, his attorney wrote to the federal judge overseeing his trial to complain about the jail conditions Avenatti is experiencing during pre-trial detention.

Scott Srebnick, Avenatti's attorney, wrote to Judge Paul Gardephe to complain about the "notorious 10-South" section of the Metropolitan Correctional Center, where he is being held in the Special Housing Unit.

"He is in a cell reportedly once occupied by El Chapo, on a floor that houses individuals charged with terrorism offenses," Avenatti's attorney wrote.

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It is Greta Thunberg vs Donald Trump at climate-focused Davos gathering of economic elites: report

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The starkly opposed visions of US President Donald Trump and Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg on climate change will clash in Davos on Tuesday as the World Economic Forum tries to face up to the perils of global warming on its 50th meeting.

The four-day gathering of the world's top political and business leaders in the Swiss Alps gets under way seeking to meet head-on the dangers to both the environment and economy from the heating of the planet.

Trump, who has repeatedly expressed scepticism about climate change, is set to give the first keynote address of Davos 2020 on Tuesday morning, on the same day as his impeachment trial opens at the Senate in Washington.

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‘Which Senator up this year most deserves to lose?’: Preet Bharara flooded with replies to provocative question

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Former United States Attorney Preet Bharara asked his 1.2 million Twitter followers a provocative question on the eve of President Donald Trump's impeachment trial.

With worries that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is presiding over a sham trial, many analysts have suggested that the Senate itself will be on trial.

"Which Senator up this year most deserves to lose?" Bharara, who was fired by Trump, asked.

There are a number of potentially vulnerable Republicans facing voters in 2020, including McConnell himself, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ), Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

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