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September 13, 2005

Tokyo Companies Sell Expressive Robot

Courtesy of TechWeb News

A robot that can escort guests, transport objects and patrol for security is for sale in Japan.

Fujitsu Frontech Limited and Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd. announced Tuesday that they will begin limited sales of their enon robot with delivery scheduled for November. The companies will observe the advanced, practical use robot in real situations before considering whether to expand marketing.

The robot is lighter, smaller and safer than a prototype developed by the companies last year. It's also different from other robots in that enon can multitask.

It is capable of receiving people, explaining exhibits, detecting the presence of people, finding its way around, providing visual images and administering questionnaires. It can store parcels up to 22 lbs. inside a compartment in its torso, while taking and carrying out delivery orders.

On patrol, it can transmit images to remote surveillance stations and respond to requests to view specific areas.

The robot has a swivel head with wide-angle cameras that allow it to move to a designated location while avoiding obstacles. It has a single arm capable of grasping and passing objects. It is programmed for speech recognition and synthesis. It also features an LCD monitor and touch panel for enhanced communication.

Enon can link to networks to provide and retrieve audio and visual information. The robot even has light-emitting diodes around the eyes and mouth, allowing it to convey expressions.

There's no word yet on whether it can dance like Honda's robot, Asimo. Asimo, a humanoid robot unveiled in Tokyo last year, danced with presenters in a recent appearance on the BBC's children's show Blue Peter. Asimo has legs, while enon moves on a round base.

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