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Frankenstein cats to rule world

Omron makes robot for cat lovers — miaow!

Problem: you want a robot pet, but you are a cat person — and most available entertainment pet robots, such as Sony's Aibo, are a little too dog-like.

Japanese electronic component maker Omron has an answer: a cat-like entertainment robot that looks real and responds to its owner.

The Necoro robot comes in two colours, and is covered with artificial fur. Necoro is equipped with sensors on its head, chin, cheek and back, which can sense when it is touched. It also has voice-recognition and visual-recognition systems and contains an acceleration sensor, which detects its own posture, according to the company.

"By patting, holding and talking to the robot, users can communicate with the robot," said Tadashi Katsuno, a spokesman for Omron.

All right, it's not to everyone's liking — its name bears an uncanny resemblance to necro, as does the creature itself. The company developed a programmed system called Mac (mind and consciousness) that gives a robot abilities to learn and build emotions, the statement said.

Necoro cannot walk around but its body's 15 joints allow it to sit down and stand up naturally. Via a built-in audio speaker, it makes 48 different mews. A rechargeable battery lasts up to one and a half hours.

A limited number of 5,000 robots will go on sale in the UK on November 20 at around £1,060, and are already available for order within Japan by telephone or internet only.

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