Robot army blankets Japan to warn of pollen

Internet-connected machines will monitor air quality

It's a bit of a stretch to describe them as robots, but the latest weather-forecasting aids from Japan certainly look pretty damn futuristic.

The ' Pollen Robots' from Weathernews in Tokyo are ball-shaped machines that sense the levels of pollen in the air in springtime and connect to the internet to send regular updates back to base.

Spheres that know

In that very Japanese way, Weathernews has created not analytical-looking monitoring devices, but cutesy white 30cm-diameter spheres with glowing eyes. The five different colours the eyes can turn give anyone passing by a quick reckoner of how much pollen is in the air.

The machines are due to be placed in 200 locations around the country, from where they'll contribute to a regional pollen forecast on Weathernews's website.

As we saw last year, hay fever is a serious problem in Japan, so let's hope the predicted pollen surge due in a few months isn't too much for the army of Pollen Robots to handle.