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Tuesday, 19 March, 2002, 15:59 GMT
Sony reveals singing robot
The SDR-4X can hold simple conversations
Japan's Sony Corporation has unveiled a prototype robot that can sing and dance.

The human-shaped SDR-4X can sing in four-part harmony, shake its hips and wave its arms in tempo.

This robot will cost as much as one car, a luxury car

Sony Corporate Executive VP Toshitada Doi
The company says the robot can also recognise faces, voices and names, hold simple conversations and pick itself up when it is pushed over.

But it is an expensive toy that a company executive says will cost as much as a luxury car.

Company officials say they hope the robot will be able to provide entertainment and companionship for its owners.

"This robot was designed to live with people in homes," said Sony Corporate Executive Vice-President Toshitada Doi.

Sony hopes the robot, which is 60 centimetres (24 inches) tall, will come on to the market at the end of the year.

Robot with 'personality'

The creators say the appeal of the SDR-4X is its personality, like Sony's hot-selling Aibo robotic pet, which uses much of the same software.

Aibo, BBC
One of SDR-4X's predecessors, Aibo, was already a popular toy
Drawing from its vocabulary of 60,000 words, an SDR-4X can ask a guest in a high, squeaky voice: "Please hold still for a minute while I memorise your face."

It can also walk on uneven surfaces and come when it is called.

Equipped with two cameras, it can tell the difference between the edge of a table and patterns on the floor - a distinction that was harder for Aibo, with only one camera "eye", to make.

"By inputting music and lyrics data into the robot, it can produce a singing voice with vibrato," Sony said.

The company added that the robot could carry out "complicated, personalised [dancing] performances."

The BBC's Karen Hoggan
"Sony is working on giving it even more human characteristics"
See also:

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Life with a robot dog
01 Mar 01 | Sci/Tech
Robot pets get domesticated
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Robofish splash down in Tokyo
10 Sep 01 | Artificial intelligence
Timeline: Real robots
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