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Expo 05

As I'm in Japan, I thought l should visit Expo 05, so I caught the shinkansen over to Aichi to take a look around it. As I was leaving the guesthouse, however, it began to rain - it didn't look like it would come to anything though so I chose not to go back for my waterproof jacket. Needless to say it pissed down all day.

One of the things I most wanted to see at Expo was the robot exhibit so I ran through the rain over to the exhibition hall it was in. The first thing to greet me was a Hello Kitty robot sitting behind reception, which shouted at me continuously in Japanese until I walked away. Next there was a demonstration of the PaPeRo child minding robot, which disappointingly refused to get irritated with the brats and begin shouting, "Exterminate! Exterminate!" The next robot looked like it could have - the dalek-sized Actroid security robot, designed to roam around offices and factories at night in search of prey. There was also an impressive two-legged walking dinosaur bot, a reception robot, and a whole bunch of cleaning robots, which are in operation on the Expo grounds every night. Looking a bit like the motorised street cleaning machines you see around towns, these work without any outside control, guiding themselves by gps, and working as a team to clean the site. One robot which was quite impressive was an automatic wheelchair, which they wanted to let me loose in - but the rain stopped that. Guided by gps, it takes the passenger to any destination pressed on it's touchscreen, whilst avoiding obstacles and terrifying neighbourhood cats with it's laser guidance system.

It took me some time to realise that the very human-like Actroid was in fact not an attractive Asian girl - but a robot, so just think of the possible consequences of being pissed when you met one. I've no idea what it does, but it looked and moved like a real girl, and won't drag you around looking at shoes for hours, so that's good enough for me!

Much of Expo was nothing special, however, consisting of national dislays from lots of countries - most of which used it simply as a tourism stand; the joint Nordic countries effort was particularly pathetic. The Thai stand was good for lunch. The Laos stand sold happy pizza. Expecting the worst (lots of pictures of Tower Bridge), the British exhibition was actually pretty good, with lots of interactive exhibits and a message about the environment.

Tho most moving display for me was in the United Nations exhibition, with the UNEP Focus on your World photography contest. Hundreds of the best shots to show the environmental changes taking place in the world were on show, some of which were truly powerful.

The downside of the whole Expo was that you had to queue for each individual exhibit, often for as long as 60 minutes, outside, in the rain, so there was a lot I didn't bother going to see.


Well, I guess it is not such a big step to have your own sex android! WHo needs real women!

Hi, Im spending a few months in Nagoya (from Australia) and making a video doco on it. You can view the first few minutes on www.filmtheatres.com
It should be completed and uploaded in full DVD quality by the end of July. This will save you standing in the rain in the LONG cues!

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