It sings and dances, but Sony's new humanoid carries steep price tag - - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - |

It sings and dances, but Sony's new humanoid carries steep price tag

TOKYO (AP) _ The newest Sony Corp. family member has a photographic memory, an extensive vocabulary and a jukebox-like knowledge of music.

He also comes with a clunky, sci-fi name and a price tag resembling that of a luxury car.

The silver, round-eyed SDR-4X humanoid robot was unveiled Tuesday and will go on sale later this year. Sony Corp. would not say much more about its plans for the 23-inch tall robot.

``This robot was designed to live with people in homes,'' said Toshitada Doi, Sony executive vice president.

For that, the robot has sensors on the bottom of its feet to help it walk on uneven surfaces such as carpeting and has been programmed to tumble without falling apart and then get up on its own, Doi said.

The SDR-4X is an upgraded version of a humanoid robot shown about a year ago. It has two cameras to see things better, including being able to tell the difference between the edge of a table and the patterns on the floor. That has been a challenge for another Sony product, the puppy-shaped robot Aibo, which has only one camera.

The new robot will be considerably more expensive than Aibo, which already has sold more than 100,000 units worldwide. The latest Aibo model sells for $1,400 in Japan and $1,500 in the United States.

``This robot will be cost as much as one car, a luxury car,'' Doi said.

For that money, the SDR-4X can carry on simple conversations with its 60,000-word vocabulary, recognize color, dodge obstacles in its path and even sing once programmed with music and lyrics.

The robot also can be programmed to recognize 10 people through their faces, stored as digital images shot with its camera, and their voices, picked up through seven microphones. It also will remember their names.

In a demonstration, the robot sang in harmony, shaking its hips and waving its arms in tempo. It also balanced itself on a surfboard tilting at various angles.

Sony is one of several Japanese companies beefing up their robot divisions. Entertainment robots have become a fad in gadget-loving Japan, with toy makers coming out with cheaper imitations.

Honda Motor Co. has developed a walking robot called Asimo that greets visitors at showrooms and recently rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which has focused on industrial robots, sold two entertainment robots to a museum. They talk with children, play simple games and draw pictures. Mitsubishi will not disclose their price but said their development cost $1.5 million.

Yaskawa Electric Corp., which supplies robots to auto assembly lines, has developed a $105,000 bed-shaped robot that can help rehabilitation patients who need to strengthen their legs.

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