New RoboCop Operated by Cell Phone

Paul Blart, step aside.

The fat, bungling mall cop may succeed in Hollywood, going after bad guys on his oh-so-yesterday Segway.

But in real life the future of mall enforcement could lie with a new robotic cop that can be operated remotely from a cell phone and can — it's builders claim — toss a net over a bad guy.

Okay, it sounds a little farfetched, but Japan's Tmsuk Co (the company that brought you the robotic babysitter) developed the T-34 robot in conjunction with security firm Alacom Co. The idea is to deploy squads of them to keep an artificial eye on office buildings and industrial complexes (and malls, we presume).

(Sonny, are you listening?)

"We have basically designed the robot for corporate use and we expect private security companies to buy them instead of using human guards, but there will also be those tailored for use in homes," said company spokeswoman Mariko Ishikawa in an article (with photo) in The Telegraph. (Another photo)

The person in charge sees where the robot is going as real-time images are sent to the mobile phone. Sensors in T-34 detect heat that could be from a human.

The catch, as always with new technology: It'll be on the market in two years, the company expects. Paul Blart, meanwhile, is in theaters now.

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Robert Roy Britt is the Editorial Director of Imaginova. In this column, The Water Cooler, he takes a daily look at what people are talking about in the world of science and beyond.