Public: Pedestrian Traffic
Monumental Pedestrian Advisors   (+9)  [vote for, against]
A statue that can tell you where to go ...

Large statues can take up a lot of city space and baffled tourists can often gather by them, bemused by their bearings in a city that might be completely new to them. This ideas seeks to leverage those ideas into whole new concept ...

Statues, especially those representing kind, knowledgeable types, could be retrofitted with animatronics and sufficient conversant abilities (the computing power is nearly there, I believe) to answer common tourist/local questions.

Turning and pointing could be the basic set of movements but a moving mouth, expressive limbs and maybe extra features to assist body language and facial expressions would be good too.

For safety reason a high plinth might be desirable, so the statue can avoid poking people in the eye, or clobbering a bystander, when someone asks where the nearest public lavatories are. The full package would include proximity detection to avoid this kit of lawsuit fodder.

An authoritative "voice of doom" booming from a colossal statue is what I imagined when I came up with this idea.
-- Aristotle, Oct 06 2009

Not to be confused with ... http://ullagegroup....9/speaking-statues/
... the "speaking" statues of the ancient world. [Aristotle, Oct 06 2009]

4th plinth
[po, Oct 07 2009]

"Right This Way" New_20Statuary_20Types
(note: not animatronic) [FlyingToaster, Oct 08 2009]

[Voice of Doom]: SHOOO, $#@$ PIGEONS!
-- jutta, Oct 06 2009

Sort-of Baked in a recent Dr. Who episode called "The Library".

We will award a bun for the delightful prospect of the statue of Admiral the Lord Horatio Nelson, atop his column in Trafalgar square, refusing to give french tourists directions to anywhere other than Waterloo Station ....
-- 8th of 7, Oct 06 2009

[+] if Nelson speaks in Grytpype-Thynne's voice and Boadicea in Minnie Bannister's.
-- mouseposture, Oct 06 2009

someone standing on the 4th plinth?
-- po, Oct 07 2009

I have to admit that this kind of thing won't stay half-baked for long due to continuing research on emotional, reponsive robots. Admittedly putting an addressable, animated construct in a public place (and thus subject to weather, a surrounding babble of communication and people seeking to interact physically with the environment) is wildly ambitious.

The Dr Who library guide is admittedly near but that technology is light years away. People could have a stab at building this now, complete with personality. I've already read papers about a responsive, virtual "real estate" agent conversant (with body language) at the turn of the century, back when I was an inventor. Constructs can converse about resticted subject matter.

As for the fourth plinth there are also those professionals that posed as statues for tourists; I've seen some in Paris, for example. Employing living people to do this kind of things could be an intermediate step but a rather conventional one.

A network of these statues could direct people in stages between each other, using themselves as way points and alerting the next monument that they've directed someone towards it.
-- Aristotle, Oct 07 2009

No, that's the Les Patterson one outside the Australian High Commission ....
-- 8th of 7, Oct 07 2009

[Venus de Milo] (nodding furiously): "that way you moron!"
-- kaz, Oct 07 2009

Statues of politicians should furnish wrong directions.
-- vfrackis, Oct 07 2009

Hey, finally a use for thse sidewalk guys who paint themselves up entirely in silver expecting pictures and cash.
-- RayfordSteele, Oct 08 2009

They also would be good for both a Dan Brown run- around-to-solve-puzzle story ("Oh my goodness, it seems that the Richard Dawkins statue knows the secret behind religion X") and conspiracy theories ("If you wear a carnation on a full moon, the Lady Di statue will explain how she was murdered").

Oh, and don't try asking the Sid Vicious statue the time because he'd tell you there's no future ...
-- Aristotle, Oct 10 2009

//sidewalk guys who paint themselves up entirely in silver expecting pictures and cash//
you probably don't know what sort of "public fountain" image that evoked.
-- FlyingToaster, Oct 11 2009

random, halfbakery