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Motorised meat-smoker droid vigilante patrols Atlanta

Vagrants live in fear of the 'Bum Bot'

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A former US Marine bar owner has built a home-made robot which patrols the streets of Atlanta rousting winos and vagrants. The so-called "Bum Bot" is equipped with a panoply of glaring lights, an infrared camera, and a water cannon in a "spinning turret".

AP reports that the 300lb motorised vigilante droid is the brainchild of Rufus Terrill, owner of O'Terrill's Irish Pub. It appears that the irascible 57-year-old publican, irritated by local drug users and other ne'er-do-wells, initially handled matters face-to-face tooled up with an assault rifle.

"They're out here to get money for drugs, to get money from breaking into cars," he told AP. "These are bad guys."

Namby-pamby local lawmen objected to this, however, and Terrill was compelled to leave his iron at home. This made encounters unacceptably dangerous, so Terrill got to work A-Team style and fashioned the Bum Bot out of a three-wheel scooter, home alarm components and other odds and ends including a "home meat smoker".

Apparently the no-nonsense machine is powered by four car batteries, and features flashing red lights salvaged from a 1997 Chevrolet. Clad in a protective armour of rubber gym mats, it shrugs off regular bombardments of bottles, bricks and so forth from testy street denizens and wades in with its water cannon blasting, though on occasion Terrill has had to call in police assistance for the embattled droid enforcer.

Live video from the mechanised town-tamer is often shown on the plasma screen in O'Terrill's bar, to the delight of regulars. However, the Bum Bot isn't popular with everyone.

"I cleared out when I saw it," said Matthew Williams, 23, a member of Atlanta's housing-disadvantaged community.

Terrill, who previously came last in the 2006 race to be democratic candidate for Georgia lieutenant-governor, reportedly intends running for Atlanta mayor. He says the Bum Bot will be his chief-of-staff. ®

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