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: In House Counsel - Contracts

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of compliance software a...

Recruitment Genius: Associate System Engineer

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Associate System Engineer r...

Recruitment Genius: Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Executive Assistant is required to join a l...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat