BEIJING, July 17 (Xinhuanet) -- They don't have much work experience, yet, but People Staff, a temporary staffing agency based in Nagoya, Japan, announced recently it has "hired" 10 Wakamaru bright yellow receptionist robots as dispatch workers to labor at businesses in the Tokai area of central Japan.
The robots are one meter tall and move their 66-pound bodies around on wheels. The robots were first developed by Mitsubishi in 2003 as a companion robot. The home version allows the bot to connect to Internet news (to obtain conversational material), and it also allows remote observation via Wakamaru's cameras.
The Wakamaru's skills include face recognition (search for and follow faces), basic manual tasks, good listener (voice recognition capabilities), verbal skills with customers (vocabulary of 10,000 words), sings cheerful songs and can escort visitors to different destinations.
The Wakamaru robot is less cost-effective for short engagements (probably 1,000 U.S. dollars per day); however, it is expected that annual contracts could run as little as 25,000 dollars. This is comparable with the cost of a human temporary worker.
Although it is less mobile, the Wakamaru robot's chief rival, the Actroid DER2 fembot, has a humanoid appearance and a longer work history. The South Korean fembot EveR2-Muse has more public exposure as a singer.