Need home help? It has to be maid in Japan

No longer a problem. Just wheel in Wakamaru.

She may not look entirely as you would expect, with a shiny face of canary yellow and metallic arms a delicate shade of silver. But this smooth-talking Japanese lady has the potential to be the ideal companion.

For those with a tendency to feel sluggish of a morning, she can glide to your bedside armed with the news headlines and the weather forecast. For the organisationally challenged, she will willingly fill you in on the contents of your diary. And if you're looking, well, a little rotund, she will urge you to fit in a light jogging session before you start the day.

Friendly, charming and absolutely dependable, Wakamaru is all you ever wanted in an assistant. Within days she could become an immovable fixture in your life. The only thing is, she's a robot.

Wakamaru, the latest futuristic product to be unveiled by Mitsubishi, is the walking, talking result of a Japanese programme aiming to create a robot that comes as close as possible to a real person. The 3ft 4in highhumanoid is capable of recognising up to 10 individuals by name and greeting friends and family in a soothing, gentle voice that betrays only the slightest hint of being chip-induced.

"We have tried to create a robot you can have a relationship with, just like a human," Ken Onishi, the technical team leader in charge of designing Wakamaru, said yesterday.

While none of her features are entirely revolutionary, the robot's overall package was a colossal task for designers, Mr Onishi explained. Even in Japan, a country at the forefront of innovation in the robotic field, putting together a machine capable of combing all Wakamara's gifts is an incredible feat of science.

The team at Mitsubishi claims the internet-linked robot, as well being able to take phone messages and read out any e-mails that may have dropped in her owner's inbox, has a programmed personality designed to ape as far as possible the warmth and friendliness of a real human being.

It has even been suggested in Japan that she is sufficiently adaptable to make her a suitable carer for elderly people with nobody else to look after them. Her frame contains an internal alarm system programmed to call emergency services if a person has an accident. Speech-recognition software and a built-in dictionary provide Wakamara's vocabulary.

The only slight snag in all of this is that, like most good things in life, Wakamaru does not come cheap. A limited edition of 100 robots goes on sale today in Tokyo at a cost of 1.575 million yen (£790,000). As demanding as any other lady of style, she also requires a monthly maintenance charge of about 10,000 yen.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Events Consultant

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A position has arisen for an ex...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunity for a pro...

Recruitment Genius: Online Marketing Executive

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Online Marketing Executive i...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Property Manager / Inventory Clerk

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The largest private landlord ba...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence