Web Exclusive: Japanese engineers working to develop realistic androids to make life easier

Web Exclusive: Japanese engineers working to develop realistic androids to make life easier

(CNN) - Japan is a country that's on the leading edge of robot technology.  Engineers in Japan are working hard to develop realistic androids that may some day make life a lot easier.

Why does something so cool have to be so expensive?  Honda's humanoid robot Asimo is always a crowd pleaser, but the nearly $1 million dollar price tag prevents pretty much everyone from owning it. Now imagine this in your family's future.  A robot that gets you out of bed, serves you a drink, even makes you breakfast.

Twendy-one is the brainchild of Waseda University professor Shigeki Sugano.  His team's mission: mass production, making a robot both reliable and affordable.

"Office, home, and also the factories," says Shigeki Sugano.  He says it'll be 30 to 50 years before "family robots" are rolling off assembly lines like "family cars."  The technology is still too expensive.

But commercial robots are already here. For about $2,000 dollars Pepper is designed to sense if you're having a bad day and cheer you up.

For just under $6,000 dollars, this therapy-robot.  A cuddly comfort for seniors who can no longer care for their pets and some say an Android newscaster is the next big thing in Japanese robotics.

Blinking eyes, silicone skin, lifelike movements. The new androids at this Tokyo Technology Museum look almost like real people with a lot plastic surgery.

These prototypes are not for sale yet and they only work with a person at the controls.  Same for the Telenoid, an experimental communication device that kind of resembles a dismembered doll.

It's designed to feel more personal than a phone call, because you're talking to a human-like face.

It all may seem a bit strange to some, but it wasn't too long ago when many thought camera phones would never catch on.  We all know how that turned out. Call 'em cool, call 'em creepy. Japanese engineers hope someday you'll call these robots your own.


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