Street sign-spinners see robotic competition


They go by many names: sign-spinners, arrow-twirlers, sign-dancers. They're the people hired to hold boards and advertise businesses along roadways. They're all over Southern California.

But that gig could be in jeopardy. Introducing the robot-spinner.

"She's indeed the perfect employee," said business-owner Eduardo Hernandez. "She's out there all day. She doesn't complain. Looking all cute, never needs anything and doesn't ask for a raise."

Hernandez says she's low-maintenance too. He might come out and fluff her wig, and that's it. Because she's attached to a dolly, there's no heavy lifting. But she is battery powered and has to be charged nightly. An eight-hour charge and she'll dance all day long.

But the real benefit comes down to the bottom line.

"We're looking for better and cheaper ways to come up with advertising in order to make ends meet," said Hernandez. "Everyone's struggling. Nobody seems to have money nowadays."

You can buy one of these mannequins online for around $1,000.

Jonathan Gutierrez works a five-hour day at $10 per hour. Based on a five-day work week, that's $1,000 a month.

Business-owner Patricia Gonzalez agrees that moneywise, the robot is the way to go. She has a robot and a human spinner. Still, she's partial to her living breathing twirler.

"Our live guy, he can actually talk to the customer, tell them about us, move around different places," said Gonzalez.

Both managers said they turned to a robot advertiser because they felt bad for employees sweating in the sun. The twirlers we spoke to had strong opinions about their mechanical counterparts.

"People like me won't have a job. We'll be home, maybe just playing video games," said Gutierrez.

"I need money," said another sign-spinner.

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