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Robot to the rescue

Banryu bot promises to keep Japanese homes safe

Robots that can help out around the house might finally be making the leap out of science fiction and into your sitting room — well if you live in Japan that is.

Fujitsu has already unveiled its Maron-1 home help robot, due to go on sale next year, and now Sanyo and fellow Japanese company Tmsuk are showing off their Banryu bot.

Banryu carries out similar guard duties to Maron-1, and is able to detect smoke and intruders in the home as well as send information to and take orders from your mobile phone. The robot is one metre long, 80cm tall and 70cm wide, and weighs 40kg, so it's not nearly as dinky as the Maron-1.

The name — Banryu — means 'guarding dinosaur' in Japanese, and it is designed to look like one although we thought it bore more resemblance to a bull dog with a pointed nose.

If the robot detects an intruder or the smell of burning it can let its owner know by howling or calling their mobile. Once the call is taken it can send video images to the handset to allow the owner to see what is going on in the house via cameras mounted on the robot.

Sadly, with a top speed of just 15 metres per minute, it's too slow to chase out robbers like a real-life guard dog but it can climb stairs of up to 15cm in height.

The multitalented dinosaur can also work as a speakerphone, allowing the owner to talk to people within earshot of Banryu. It can be powered either by a battery, which lasts for just one hour, or via a long power cable — a sort of dino leash.

You can control Banryu's functions by swapping between settings: remote control mode allows you to control it by mobile phone; care taking mode allows it to guard you house; and pet mode means it will act like a dog, responding to 'sit' and 'paw' commands.

The companies will start taking orders from next month and plan initially to sell 50 of the robots to the Japanese market next year. But Banryu's high price of ¥2m (£10,484) means that only the wealthiest homeowners will be able to adopt.

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