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She's nice, but maybe a touch toorobotic...

IT may have been a fashion first, but supermodel Naomi Campbell has nothing to fear.

The HRP-4C humanoid robot showed off her stormtrooper-like silver and black frame and bowed to a fashion-savvy audience at the start of the annual Japan Fashion Week in Tokyo ?? but even her creators admit the mechanical model needs more work.

The HRP-4C has battery-powered motors in her body and face, allowing her to imitate the expressions, gait and poses of a supermodel ?? up to a point.

"Our robot can't move elegantly like the real models that are here today," said Shuji Kajita, director of humanoid robot engineering at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology.

"It'll take another 20 to 30 years of research to make that happen."

The 1.58-meter high-tech model weighed in at 43 kilograms, slimmed down from earlier versions just in time for her catwalk debut at one of Japan's biggest fashion events. Designers say the eyes, face and hair of the robot, which cost about US$2 million to develop, are based on Japanese "anime" cartoon characters.

Japan, which is home to almost half of the world's 800,000 industrial robots, expects the industry to expand to US$10 billion in the future including models that will be able to look after its fast-growing elderly population.


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