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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 November, 2003, 12:42 GMT
Mini-copter stars at robot show
The company is looking for a cable-free power unit

One of the world's lightest and smallest robot helicopters has been unveiled at a Tokyo exhibition by the Seiko Epson company.

The designers say the 70-mm-tall device could be used as a "flying camera" to enter earthquake-shattered buildings.

The prototype four-legged robot weighs 10 grammes and although it flies by remote control, it has to be linked to an external power source via a cable.

Seiko Epson manger Junji Ajioka said he was looking for another firm to help develop a super-lightweight battery.

"That's why we showed this robot at the exhibition. We want to attract battery makers who can manufacture a very light battery for us," he said, adding the company had yet to set a date for marketing the robot.

Fish, AFP
The usual pool of robotic fish are on display at the event
"The robot has a camera and can fly into dangerous areas or areas hit by disasters in place of human beings. In a word, it functions as an eye," said the manager of Seiko Epson's strategic business development division.

It has taken the company three years to get the vehicle to its current stage of development.

The biennial 2003 International Robot Exhibition in Tokyo is always a major draw.

It has become a showcase for leading manufacturers to demonstrate their concept machines.

Organisers expect about 100,000 people to attend the four-day event.

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