Starting conversations with strangers is part of the job for Russ Reno, owner of the Anchorage Downtown TourGroup. He finds it pretty easy with Loomo tagging along — a robot Segway with an artificial brain.

It follows Reno around the sidewalks downtown, turning heads and raising questions from tourists and locals.

"OK Loomo, take a picture," Reno commands.

"At your service." Loomo replies. "Fabulous looking crowd. Hold on, let me try to find a good angle."

The robot frames up a shot of Reno and the family he just met.

"3, 2, 1, cheese," Loomo says.

The camera clicks, everyone laughs and Reno hands them a pamphlet with information about all the fun things to do around 3rd Avenue. It's the perfect marketing machine.

 

Reno purchased Loomo on a crowdfunding site "on a whim" and was surprised when the prototype showed up in the mail last fall.

"It was kinda difficult getting around the snow but boy, he loves summertime," Reno said.

While roaming through Town Square Park, a crowd of tourists gather and Loomo begins to follow one of them around.

"Oh you've got a friend now!" Reno jokes.

Soon everyone is taking pictures, even Loomo.

"Hi there," Loomo says. "I was sent from the future."

The line gets a good laugh, but it appears that robot marketing is more present than future.

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