Prepare for the Overlords!

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Friday, November 24, 2006

TOKYO - It can greet people, show DVDs and hand out balloons. "Ubiko," a robot-on-wheels with a catlike face, is joining the crew of temporary workers supplied by a Japanese job-referral company to stores, events and even weddings.


Next month, the 44-inch tall robot will be selling mobile phones at a store, said Akiko Sakurai, a spokeswoman at the company, Ubiquitous Exchange.

Ubiko can be hired as a temporary worker for two hours for 105,000 yen, or $890.

"We see this as serious business. There are jobs that robots are better at," Sakurai said Wednesday. "People do develop an attachment with the robot, and it's lovable."

The $255,000 robot, which comes a camera and infared sensors, greets customers with a nasal electronic voice, shows DVDs with a projector in its head and hands out balloons and other goods with wireless remote-controllable arms, she said.

Ubiko is short for "ubiquitous computing" and "ubiquitous company" but also sounds like a Japanese female name, which often end with "ko."

Tmsuk, the Japanese manufacturer that makes the robot, sold three last month to a hospital, where they are working as full-time, rather than temporary, receptionists and guides, said company spokeswoman Rie Sudo.

One of the hospital's robots serves as a receptionist and has been programmed to greet visitors. It also has a touch-panel on its body, and visitors can use it to get directions for where they want to go.

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eureka, California, United States
As Popeye once said,"I ams what I am." But then again maybe I'm not