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Japanese museum hires robot

Finally a guide that knows what it's talking about

Japan's National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, which was opened in July last year in Tokyo, has a new employee — a humanoid robot developed by Honda named Asimo, which will earn a £106,000 annual salary.

Unveiled in 2000, Asimo is an 11th generation robot developed by Honda Motor, which has placed a particular focus on developing robots capable of human-like walking movements. The 120cm, 43kg robot can be operated by remote control or PC and can respond to several questions when asked.

Having worked as the star of Honda Motor television commercials, Asimo was offered, on a rental basis, to any corporation interested in hiring the robot as a guide or an interpreter at showrooms, exhibitions and other events in April 2001.

NMESI (the museum), which exhibits scientific advances in technologies, became the first organisation to rent Asimo, said Yuji Hatano, a spokesman for Honda Motor. The robot will work as an guide at the museum's robot exhibition section, according to NMESI.

At the same time NMESI plans to conduct research on how humans working as guides alongside Asimo will psychologically accept the robot as their colleague. Asimo's movements will also be studied in an effort to make them more like humans'.

In addition to its job at NMESI, Asimo is expected to be hired by IBM and CAD (computer-aided design) architect Incs, Hatano said.

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