• The Associated Press


Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. unveiled a robot Tuesday that it claims will become a future house-sitter, caretaker, nurse and family friend.

Wakamaru, a 1-meter-tall, camera-equipped robot, features voice- and face-recognition capabilities, allowing it to search for and follow voices, faces and gestures.

The bubble-headed robot, still in the experimental stage, will be useful for elderly people or those in poor health, the Tokyo-based company said. The robot will probably retail for around 1 million yen, although no plans have been made yet to market the machine, MHI said.

It runs on the Linux operating system, and can connect to the Internet and stream video data to cell phones and computers. It can be programmed to send e-mail automatically if it hears a loud noise or monitors unusual movement patterns in the home.

The robot has been programmed to ask questions, including: “You’re home late. What have you been up to?”

It can also be programmed to store and “remember” the side effects of certain medications.

The battery lasts two hours, but when it’s running low, the robot will recharge itself.

Japan has long had a fascination for robot technology, especially machines with humanlike appearances.

Several companies have developed robots, including entertainment and electronics giant Sony Corp., mobile-phone company NTT DoCoMo Inc. and automaker Honda Motor Co.

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