With Japan’s rapidly ageing population, it’s perhaps not surprising that robotic research is such a high priority for many Japanese companies. Yet whilst some creations can now ride a bike, serve beverages and even, ahem, bring people pleasure, they are hardly beneficial to society as a whole.
That said, the recent introduction of the CB2 baby robot may admittedly go some way towards the lack of youngsters in Japan, but its far from cuddly character could well remain a stumbling block. Mitsubishi’s Wakamaru on the other hand is arguably a sign of the future, with the Tokyo-based company now offering the little fella out on lease as a receptionist.
With the ability to recognise 10,000 words, respond with basic sentences and move around without bumping into things, Wakamaru may indeed make the perfect receptionist; however whilst guaranteed to be at work on time and never call in sick, at 120,000 yen (970 dollar) a day, the robot’s reliability comes at quite a cost. A price that admittedly does drop if the rental period is longer, coming in at a more cost effective 20,000 yen per day for those willing to sign up for 3 weeks or more.
And as a bonus he also seems good with kids, although the expression on the face of the young girl at the front does make one wonder where Wakamaru’s left hand is, and perhaps more importantly, what he’s doing with it.