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Health

Robot enforces mask-wearing, distancing at store in Japan

TOKYO (Reuters) - A robot has signed on as the newest staff member at a store in Japan, taking on the job of ensuring customers wear masks and practice social distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Robovie, developed by Kyoto-based Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR), guides customers around the sales floor at the official store of soccer team Cerezo Osaka.

It warns customers when it detects through a camera and 3D laser beam technology that they are not wearing masks or abiding by social distancing rules.

Robovie’s deployment is a trial that started last week and will run at least through the end of the month. It will be extended according to the situation, ATR said.

With around 120,000 reported coronavirus cases and close to 2,000 deaths, Japan has weathered the pandemic better than many nations, and people are mostly compliant with requests to wear masks.

But authorities are calling for vigilance after a resurgence in cases as the weather gets colder and people spend more time indoors.

Reporting by Hideto Sakai; Writing by Chris Gallagher; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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