Fujitsu's Hi-End guide robot on wheels to go on sale in November

New Fujitsu robot, equipped with voice recognition capabilities, cameras and sensors, the 130 centimeter (4-foot) tall robot on wheels will go on sale for 6 million yen (US$54,000; Ђ44,000) in Japan in November for just such a purpose.

Tokyo-based Fujitsu Ltd. plans to sell about 20 or 30 of the robots, called "enon" (pronounced EH-nohn), which stands for "exciting nova on network," and already has received about 10 orders.

The price tag covers just the machine software programs cost extra. Fujitsu refused to give a price estimate for the software.

Enon can find its way around an office or store, based on a map of the location preprogrammed into its computer brain, at up to 3 kilometers per hour (1.9 mph).

Its mechanical arms and hands can lift objects weighing up to 0.5 kilograms (1.1 pounds).

Enon is geared toward use in stores or restaurants, and Fujitsu says that down the road it may help alleviate shortages in Japan's labor force due to the declining birthrate and growing elderly population.

"We hope that robots like this will be able to help people in an aging society whose population is declining," Tokuichi Shishido, director at Fujitsu Frontech, said Tuesday.

The round-headed robot greeted journalists, saying in a female voice: "Hello. Welcome to Fujitsu. I'm enon. Are you a reporter?"

Fujitsu foresees the worldwide service robot market as growing to 100 billion yen (US$907 million; Ђ738 million) by 2010. It wants enon to become a mass-produced product in a year or so, and hopes to bring down its price to 2 million yen (US$18,000; Ђ15,000).

In Japan, where people love gadgets and robots, enon may be spotted at stores and restaurants soon, Fujitsu said, reports the AP.

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