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Giant Robot and Dinosaur Statues Are Taking Over Turkey's Capital

At first there was a robot, then there was a T-rex statue. Now there are robots and T-rexes together.

Emiko Jozuka

Emiko Jozuka

Once upon a time, in modern day Turkey, there was a mayor called Melih Gökçek who was really keen on promoting his Ankapark amusement park project. So he decided to erect a huge six metre tall Transformer-like robot in the middle of a roundabout in Ankara.

Everyone initially thought that the Transformer bot—dubbed "Otorobot" by the mayor—was an April Fool's Day joke (it appeared on April 1 2015). But when it showed no signs of going away, people got anxious.

Translation: "General Optimuszade Megatron will save Ankara from any enemy invasions."

The megabot caused furore among Turkish citizens, and Turkey's Chamber of Architects and Engineers—who were already against the idea of an amusement park—decided to sue Gökçek for pilfering taxpayers money. For who would want to see their hard earned cash go on some politician's pet project?

Turkish citizens took to Twitter to express their discontent through some astute observations. One commented that "we're the only country erecting robot statues without even having a robot manufacturing industry." Another commented that Gökçek was turning the whole city into Disneyland. Another commented that "in my opinion, that robot in Ankara isn't as innocent as it looks...Melih Gokcek will probably kidnap it and annihilate the world."

Translation: "We're the only country erecting robot statues without even having a robot manufacturing industry."

Despite the backlash, Gökçek was not to be defeated. In a heated battle between the Chamber of Architects and Engineers, Gökçek heavily critiqued the former for finding fault with his robot. In anger, according to a report by Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, Gökçek commented that his robot statue's marble head actually worked better than that of the Chamber of Architects and Engineers, and urged them to "respect our robot."

Though Gökçek was eventually forced to remove the megabot, he settled for second best, and erected a three-metre-high, ten-metre-long T-Rex model in its place, according to a report by Today's Zaman.

Translation: Does the robot in Ankara look like this? Maybe they wanted to model it on a version from the nineties.

But the plot thickens. Just yesterday, Cihan reported that the previously displaced Transformer bot had again reappeared in front of AVM, one of Ankara's biggest shopping malls with a whole motley crew of other bots and dinos.

According to Cihan, reports have been published claiming that the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality already paid 8.6 million lira ($3.2 million dollars) for dinosaur statues in the park. With 783 million lira already spent on Ankapark, anger has been simmering over how much more money will be spent on the transformer bots, which are suspected to be more costly than the dinos.

"One day robots will conquer Ankara," said one witty citizen, according to Cihan's report.

While Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking have instilled some people with the fear of a possible AI bot takeover, over in Turkey, a real robot takeover is currently underway—albeit by Turkey's mayor, as opposed to the actual robots themselves.