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November 18, 2009

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Taiwanese robot may take your job

TAIWAN researchers have invented a robot that can act as a receptionist, tour guide, security guard and doctor's aide, the latest offering from the island seeking to make its name in the global robotics market.

The 60-kilogram interactive robot named Monica can film, then recognize people well enough to admit them into an office building or send an emergency text message to a human security guard, project leader Ren Luo said yesterday.

Sensory functions also allow it to interact remotely between doctors and patients, especially when a patient falls.

Tourists could also use the 100-centimeter-tall robot to give them directions.

"Within the robot community, this is pretty impressive because it can replace so many human functions," said Luo.

Long a powerhouse for personal computers, Taiwan is eyeing a share of the US$18 billion robotics market, taking on larger foreign rivals such as Japan as margins in the island's chip and PC industries come under pressure.

The researchers have already spoken with a manufacturer about mass producing Monica, Luo said. Current price tag is NT$400,000 (US$12,500), he said.


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