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Robot Paints Two-Story Mural In Downtown San Jose

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) -- A robot has painted a two-story tall mural on the side of a building in downtown San Jose.

It's not so much painting, as it is printing, shooting paint from a computer controlled rig, kind of like a giant inkjet printer.

A mural this big can be painted in about two and a half days, instead of the weeks it would take to do by hand, and at half the cost of what a human artist would charge.

The people behind it say they are not stealing artists' jobs.

Yeong-Sae Kim is the CFO of Vibot, a startup based in North San Jose.

Kim said, "We're certainly not trying to take small platforms away from muralists, that's for them to do. We take a much larger project, much more complex pictures that need to be done cost-effectively and in a much shorter period of time."

When they say much larger projects, they're not kidding.

Vibot's work can be seen on the sides of skyscrapers all over Korea.

This is the first time their technology is getting rolled out to the U.S.

Vibot says their technology opens up murals to other artists like painters, photographers, and graphic designers.

"They don't have the ability to paint on these large walls, so they don't get the exposure that these muralists might be able to get," Kim said. "So we're trying to open up this platform to a much wider array of artists and a much wider community of contributors to the local art community."

Jim Alves owns Hardcastle Auto Body, a family run business for the past 92 years.

"Maybe I'm crazy," said Alves, who is getting a mural painted by Vibot at his auto body shop.

He approved the design, featuring the past, present, and future of automobiles, with a nod to the valley's history of agriculture, even including the Lick Observatory.

Alves sees the irony of an old school operation using cutting edge technology.

"This kind of is the new technology of using our brain, our creativity, to come up with the designs and then the machine coming back and making it happen for us," Alves said.

Kim said, "It's not just for the building owner, it's for everyone passing by, to appreciate and to basically brighten up the neighborhood as well."

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