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Walking Human-Shaped Robot Going on Sale

Associated Press | April 12, 2005

TOKYO (AP) - A small walking man-shaped robot for home security and entertainment is going on sale in Japan for 588,000 yen ($5,450).

The 15-inch tall, 5.5 pound robot called nuvo from ZMP Inc. also comes in a fancier $8,200 version with the same functions and a design inspired by lacquer-ware painted on its body.

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The robot can walk, get up and respond to voice commands such as "turn right." It links to mobile phones so that people can check on images of their homes taken on a digital camera inside the robot's head. It can be controlled by a remote and is programmed to do a dance. It also makes musical sounds.

The creators are billing the machine as an eye-pleasing addition to fashionable homes, the collaboration of a designer and a choreographer as well as a computer chip maker.

Tokyo-based ZMP is planning to sell 2,300 robots, and shipments are set for late April. Orders are being taken through the Internet and robots will also be sold at a Tokyo shop. The robots are being sold only in Japan, the company said.

Japan leads the world in robotics, and Japanese companies, including automakers Honda Motor Co. ( HMC ) and Toyota Motor Corp., have produced experimental human-shaped robots. Sony Corp. ( SNE ) has sold the Aibo dog-shaped entertainment robots, but ZMP says it's the first to mass-produce humanoids for the home.

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