Here’s something you don’t see everyday: a robot monk practicing Buddhism and attracting new followers by blending religion and technology.
Meet Xian’er, a two-foot-tall robot monk at Beijing’s Longquan temple that was developed in association with a technology company and artificial intelligence experts from China’s top universities.
Xian’er can chant Buddhist mantras, move via voice command, and hold a simple conversation by answering 20 questions about Buddhism and daily life. The robot monk can also perform seven types of motions on his wheels.
Michelle Yu, a tourist and practicing Buddhist, said she first spotted Xian’er on social media. “He looks really cute and adorable. He’ll spread Buddhism to more people, since they will think he’s very interesting, and will make them really want to understand Buddhism.”
According to Longquan temple, Xian’er spends most of his time meditating on a shelf in an office. However, he has made several appearances at robotics conferences in China and has more than 300,000 followers on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.
Longquan temple said it’s already developing the next-gen Xian’er that will be more sophisticated. In the meantime, check out the Daily Mirror video below of what Xian’er can do.