July 19, 2007

Wakamaru - Rent a Robot

In Japan, you can rent a car, rent a house and rent a pet. The latest renting service is the rent-a-robot service. This service is run by a job placement agency is expected to be a hit with businesses and event organizers. According to the latest news, you can now rent a robot by the name "Wakamaru", a robot developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Rental for "Wakamaru" is roughly about 120,000 yen per day.

The Wakamaru was introduced in April 2003 and gained popularity at the World Expo in Aichi Prefecture in 2005. The robot can relay information verbally and provide some services, such as managing schedules and sending emergency alerts to cellphone users. The 1-meter-tall robot can also make simple conversation and play paper-scissors-stone. MHI officials also want to rent out the robots for special events.

The robot is designed to serve as a reception clerk or an event guide while it utters phrases in Japanese, such as "We were expecting you," and "Let me lead you to the reception room." The manufacturer of "Wakamaru", Mitsubishi is currently trying to improve the speech recognition of "Wakamaru".

via [mdn]

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