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Linux-Powered Humanoid Robot on Sale Friday 181

An anonymous reader writes "LinuxDevices is reporting that a run of 100 Linux-powered humanoid robots goes on sale this Friday in Japan. From the article: 'priced at 1.5M Yen (about $14,000), not including 10,000 Yen (~$90) monthly service fees. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries conceived of Wakamuru as a pleasant companion offering a range of electronic-age valet services'."
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Linux-Powered Humanoid Robot on Sale Friday

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  • by banana fiend ( 611664 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @06:33AM (#13602520)
    between beowulf clusters and robot overlords, how is a troll to control him(her)self?
  • Great! (Score:2, Funny)

    by jkrise ( 535370 )
    I'll now buy about a 100 of them to stop my Windows-powered spybots...
  • (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gl4ss ( 559668 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @06:35AM (#13602522) Homepage Journal
    "Mitsubishi says it has tried to create a robot that can sustain meaningful relationships with human beings, initiating conversations with family members and offering services such as alarm, news, weather, and email dictation. The device can look after the house, provide video streams over cellular networks, and cull useful information over the Internet, while maintaining its own autonomous "rhythm of life," the company says"

    so.. what good is that the product is a 'robot' instead of being a program sold to run on your already existing computers?
    • (Score:3, Informative)

      by aussie_a ( 778472 )
      The software isn't that good. I'm sure it's more sophisticated then the "Claire" AIM Bots, but I doubt very much it can offer "meaningful conversations." I can imagine initiating conversations, basically following it (if Japanese is much more rigid and not as colloquial as English then there is an advantage), but not able to offer anything more then standard responses (such as "really?" "I see" "that's good news" "that's bad news".
      • (Score:5, Insightful)

        by bhiestand ( 157373 ) * on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @07:19AM (#13602653) Journal
        not able to offer anything more then standard responses (such as "really?" "I see" "that's good news" "that's bad news".

        Really? That's worked for me with every girl I've ever dated. Maybe you're just not good enough at it?

        Try memorizing these:
        "That looks great on you!"
        "No, that doesn't make you fat"
        "The red one(s) definitely go better with that"
        "That was an excellent meal." (Bonus points for memorizing something like "How can a man NOT be happy when he eats like that?")
        "She's not as ________ as you."
        "Why would she say that to you?!" ... "What a bitch" ... "No, not you, HER!"

        Honestly, it shouldn't be very hard to memorize 20 or 30 of these and make most girls happy.

        Why do I assume we're talking about women? If this robot was designed to cook, clean, and fuck, we wouldn't be discussing "meaningful conversation" right now, but rather crying that they're all sold out.
      • Japanese is incredibly colloquial amongst close friends and family members, and that's not counting dialects (they actually have an Aibo especially programmed to understand the Osaka dialect.) However, the standard responses you've listed pretty much describe your average responses in polite conversation, so the robot should be set.
      • That may be completely true. But, often times, we just like someone to listen. Take Eliza for example. People have obcessed (and some still do) over "her". She was pretty dumb, but smart enough to just keep the conversation going.

        It's like talking to yourself, which seems pointless, unless you consider that most people talk to themselves to work through things anyways. Having an actual robot might breath new life into Eliza, but adding some movements, facial expressions, and a humanoid body; where as t
      • FRY: You're cute!
        LIU-BOT: You're cute!
        FRY: You!
        LIU-BOT: You!
        FRY: You!
        LIU-BOT: You!
        FRY: You!
        PROFESSOR FARNSWORTH: Oh dear! She's stuck in an infinite loop and he's an idiot. Well, that's love for you...
      • abilities (Score:3, Funny)

        Hire a four-year old. Cheaper, smarter, cuter, much better conversation, can climb stairs and can actually do the things that Mitsubishi claims for the robot plus much more.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      does it bother anybody else that it's Mitsubishi *heavy* industries that's building this?

      it's like, the next step is going to be giant mechs to invade other countries with

    • avoid functional social interaction. Wouldn't it be cheaper to actually make some friends?
    • (Score:2, Insightful)

      "offering a range of electronic-age valet services"

      I read valet as escort, and escort as call-girl, and call-girl as hooker.

      TFA is not loading, but if this looks anything like this recently unveiled robot []... come on, it's a sex bot. They always talk about how the robots will cook, clean, watch children and the elderly. But, cut through the BS, and lets be honest. It's a sex bot that everyone is really waiting for. People want a Real Doll [] that can actually "perform".

      Sure, they'll make robots to do everyt
      • Version 2, the "Waksoffaru" model, is supposed to include features like a demure female voice and a vibrating "massage" hands. As an added bonus it will vacuum continuosly.
      • "But, I don't think I'm being careless in saying that every technilogical advancement had sex as its goal, and as its pioneering breakthrough."

        I don't want to burst your bubble, but careless is apt here. Not that anyone couldn't come up with a list of technologies that ostensibly did not have sex as their goal, but here's a couple that jarringly do not fit:

        The chastity belt
        The nuclear bomb
        The cotton gin
        The electric light
        The electric can-opener
        Deviled eggs

        I think your slightly off, because it's
        • "The chastity belt"
          My sex not yours

          "The nuclear bomb"
          creates less compitition for sex

          "The cotton gin"
          More time for sex, less cotton picking.

          "The electric light"
          How about the first red light?

          "The electric can-opener"
          required to get food and then sleep after sex

          "Deviled eggs"
          If you don't see the sexual connection there is something wrong with you.

          • Electric lligth to first red ligth?????

            makes no sense. Whore houses had red lights before electric lights, that is just an assinine assumption.

            Cotton gin to more time for sex is also stupid. The cotton gin was about feeding less slaves and saving money, the people using it worked just as long as the people doing it by hand, they just got a lot more done, still for no money.

            You could argue that money is all about sex, but I think that is wrong.

            It would probably be safe to say that the vast majority of adva
        • I think your slightly off, because it's not that the goal of the technology is sex -- it's that someone will find a way to adapt any technology to sex. (Although I'm not so sure about the electric can-opener).

          I'm sure that combining it with the chastity belt would be a good place to start ...
        • Well, all those things were designed to optimize one's survival, therefore to free up more time for sex. The chastity belt is not excluded, its goal is sex, well actually controlling sex.

          Freud was on to something...

          reminds me of a quote from twin peaks:
          FBI Agent: "were her problems of a sexual nature?"
          Psychiatrist: "all society's problems are of a sexual nature!"

        • Yep.

          The chastity belt - provides for more erotic foreplay.
          The nuclear bomb - "look how big MY penis is!"
          The cotton gin - provides more time and energy for your maids to provide you with "services"
          The electric light - more time at bars and pubs at the evening in a more comfortable environment, allowing you to pick up more girls
          The electric can-opener - well, I'm sure some people...
          Deviled eggs - high-energy food source that helps maintain... something... for sex.
        • You all imply that the can opener is the least likely to be associated with sex. The parent did say "Gets You Sex". I have no doubt that when the electric can opener was introduced to the public, there were plenty of men who bought one because the knew that bringing it home to their wife was going to get them some hot nasty sex. Same goes for the microwave oven, the automatic dish washer, and the automatic clothes washer.
        • The chastity belt

          Ahh.. still referred to as the golden age by lock-picking geeks!
      • The average person knew about the net when their friends, kids, or spouse started downloading porn.

        Because we all know that The Internet is For Porn []!


      • I don't think so. I think sex bots are a long way away, due to the uncanny valley []. People are not going to want to have sex with something that looks almost, but not quite, human, but they won't mind if something that looks vaguely human-like cleans their house. Also, I don't think there are that many people who would want a sex bot, when there are much simpler and cheaper devices which are good enough. Most of what makes sex with a real person better than with a toy is the emotional connection, which a sex
  • ...too many humans with a wide circular base, most of them have legs. I suppose the top half is fairly humanoid, but whenever the phrase "humanoid robot" is used I tend to assume something that walks upright on legs of some kind, rather than something with wheels.

    Still, looks like a cool piece of kit...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Do they have boobies?


    don't look at me like that!

  • I can think of many more useful ways of spending that much of money... probably a 12 node beowulf cluster?
  • by fm2503 ( 876331 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @06:37AM (#13602531)
    "Wakamaru's claimed battery life is two hours, after which the robot returns to its charging station before power fails completely." Hmmm - I hope it knows how far it is back to the charging base......
    • by LiquidCoooled ( 634315 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @06:41AM (#13602553) Homepage Journal
      I'm not concerned that it might not find its way back to its charging station, but would be worried if it misidentifies it and attempts to "plug in".

      Warning: Don't ever turn your back to this robot.
    • Yeah, that just puts a really humorous situation in my head.

      *robot is moving towards charging base, its electric motors straining under the deminished power supply.*

      Unfortunately, there is a damp bath towel or maybe a shoe or two in the way. It bumps and strains against the bath towel for a couple minutes, muttering things like "Master, I can not reach the charging station!" or "Master, I can't recharge!" It sends half a dozen SMS messages and makes a couple calls to your cell phone in a plea. It even sends
  • That's freaky. Those pictures...they are going to haunt me dreams tonight.
  • by Willeh ( 768540 ) * <> on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @06:38AM (#13602536)
    1,5M Yen and it still can't climb stairs. Sure is cheaper than a Dalek though, and (hopefully) with less genocidal tendencies.
  • by cswinter ( 860605 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @06:39AM (#13602545)
    I see it provides valet services. How long before some lonely Linux geek programmes it to provide 'maid' services?
  • ...and I've been a good - *fairly* good boy all year!
  • by LiquidCoooled ( 634315 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @06:44AM (#13602561) Homepage Journal
    I just went through to the proper homepage and read the FAQ.

    One of the questions is:

    Do I need to sign up with an Internet provider to use "wakamaru"?

    A "wakamaru" needs a continuous broadband connection, but if you don't have your own provider, when you purchase "wakamaru" it may be possible to have Internet service included.

    Why would it need a broadband connection?

    Apart from anything, it connects during its charging sessions, but just what information could it need?
  • Looks like a marriage between Hara Chrisna and Lego mindstorm. I love it already!
  • by Underholdning ( 758194 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @06:49AM (#13602570) Homepage Journal
    "Wakamaru's claimed battery life is two hours, after which the robot returns to its charging station before power fails completely. It maintains Internet access and communications capabilities while charging, Mitsubishi says."

    Man - they managed to make this robot resemble a geek real good. And even improving the standard geek. I mean - mainitaining internet access while you sleep? Man - I'm so there!
  • Grobot looks like a gnome. Krobot looks like a troll.
  • by Andy Gardner ( 850877 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @06:54AM (#13602590)
    Oh wait...
    • It doesn't run Linux, it only trundles along at 1km/h.

      Wonder how long until it will be before some pervert tries to get root on it though? ;)

      Seriously though, this is quite cool. Maybe not totally useful (it's just a big PDA!), but still cool.
  • by weicco ( 645927 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @06:57AM (#13602602)
    Does it dump core? And how about panicing?
  • First thing first..

    how hard will it be to hack fleshlight into it?
  • by Slashcrap ( 869349 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @07:21AM (#13602657) I am for my robot project.

    Basically, I have grown sick of the whole "BSD is dying" "Oh no it isn't!" arguments and have decided to settle the matter once and for all.

    As such, I am currently completing the construction of a 200 foot tall killer robot equipped with nuclear tipped missiles, dual chainsaw attachments and the obligatory friggin' laser beams coming out if its head.

    Once finished, I am going to set it to work tracking down every last BSD developer on the planet and executing them in a variety of colourful ways (starting with that asshole Theo of course). When the project is complete, we will all know that BSD is in fact dead.

    So why not use Linux I hear you ask? Simple - it's the GPL licence. Obviously my robot requires a lot of proprietary code - device drivers for the death rays and odour recognition software (I figure this is the easiest way to track down open source programmers) to name but two.

    If I had chosen the GPL, I would be forced to release this code back to the community. And then it's just a matter of time before some gawky twat with an Apple Newton somehow uploads a virus and foils my plans. The BSD licence enables me to keep this code secret which I'm sure you'll agree is a huge benefit to my project.

    Hooray for BSD! Goodbye karma!
  • ok, as it is running linux, it will not crash every 10 minutes or so ... but are there some applications out already? any cooking or cleaning rooms programmes around? this is not a lot of money, if this is a usefull part of furniture, but it is not really usefull if it just stands around or walks around doing nothing. this i can do myself much better than any robot :D
  • $14000... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by vagabond_gr ( 762469 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @07:41AM (#13602712)
    for a rolling duck [] with arms? I don't give a f*** what it runs inside, you can keep it.
  • gross color (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ynohoo ( 234463 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @07:49AM (#13602721) Homepage Journal
    is it available in any color other than bath-duck yellow?

    Augh!!! my eyes...
  • from the terrible secrets of space!

    Now that this is out, this robot's look is certainly fightening enough to keep the burglars away.
  • That's one awesome piece of hardware.. :D In future those things can be really useful. I've allways wanted automagic coffee machine which can hoover too.
  • "It recognizes names given it by users, Mitsubishi says."

    I'm going to call mine "Rosie".
  • Wouldn't it be easier, and cheaper, to buy a dog and tape your schedule to it?
  • This is bad. This is very bad. Computers and robots will soon join together and take over the world.

    And since it's Linux we can't deactivate them with BSOD.

    Am I the only one that thinks we should prepare for the coming of our new robot masters?

    And no terrible actors whose initials are K. R. wearing sunglasses will save us this time.
  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @08:10AM (#13602794) Homepage
    ...if there's one thing that the history of technology teaches us, it's that successful devices do work by slavishly imitating the way a human being would do it.

    In early SF, humanoid robots washed dishes. Automatic dishwashers are common, but they do not have robotic hands that pick up plates and scrub brushes over them and then wipe them with cloths.

    We spend less time cooking, but not because we have robotic cooks. Or, at least, not in our homes. What we have instead is a distribution system for meals (or major components thereof--entrees, frozen vegetable mixtures) that are prepared and cooked factories, shipped frozen or refrigerated, and heated in microwaves.

    We do not have humanoid robots that play pianos or violins. We do not even have player pianos or "orchestrions" in the home. Instead, we have CD players and iPods.

    A humanoid robot may evoke a pleasant retro nostalgia, but it makes about as much sense as an ornithopter.
    • ...(sigh) I meant successful devices do NOT work by slavishly imitating humans, of course.

      BTW the sewing machine is another good example... prior to Singer there were many failed sewing machines that tried to duplicate the needle motions and kind of stitch that humans use...
    • The point isn't just imitating humans but that someday they'll take over our monotonous work for us.

      Yes, we have the dishwasher, oven, stove, refrigerator, blenders, etcetera. But do we really spend less time cooking (okay, I'm not a TV dinner man) or on housework?

      No, we go out to make more elaborate or varied dishes in terms of cooking. Or in housework, we make conditions more sanitary (kitchen, dishes, bathroom, etc) than existed for the average Joe in the 1850s before all these gadgets.

      In the end, all
  • If this robot fought the Honda robot, which would win?
  • No laser cannons. Fewer legs than an AIBO. Lame
  • I saw one of these at Expo2005 in Aichi. It's voice has pretty good intonation and it makes nice genstures and the like. For a normal adult the attraction would wear off pretty soon, but I can picture kids just loving it. It could probably make do as a babysitter provided your house doesn't have stairs.
  • "Wakamaru" means... (Score:2, Informative)

    by luckbat ( 450567 )
    The name "Wakamaru" is yet another Japanese pun (much like "Pokemon" was a combination of "Poketto" (pocket) and "Monstaa" (monster) to yield a word that sounded like "bakemon," (supernatural creature)), this time a combination of "wakai" (young) and "-maru" (suffix for male names) to yield a word that means "little one," while also sounding like "wakaru," which means "to understand."

    Doesn't it make you wish our product names were as clever?
    •'d know the name is from Minamoto Yoshitsune 's childhood nickname. The point being that he had a cuuute nickname as a child but grew up to be a ferocious warrior; the idea is that this is just a baby robot and one day there will be much cooler ones.

      It's nothing to do with 'wakaru'. 'Maru' is not a suffix for male names but a term of endearment / admiration; it can also be applied to women, buildings, weapons and ships although only the latter usage is still active.

      The actual name was 'ushiwakamaru
  • ...welcome our Linux-Powered Robot overlords.
  • They got the dimensions and colors about right, but the should've made it a penguin
  • Yeah, right.

    Give the thing fingers, hips and legs and then maybe call it humanoid.
  • OSS robot (Score:3, Funny)

    by MECC ( 8478 ) * on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @08:50AM (#13603037)

    Humanoid with open sores....
  • "This is going to be the best prom ever!"
  • by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @09:19AM (#13603258)
    It sounds like it has no useful functionality beyond being a mobile internet terminal.

    its a shame that this really appears to be a way to establish the first robot product marketing strategy (i.e. ongoing montlhy service contract) rather than actually providing a product that the public needs.
  • by scovetta ( 632629 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @09:27AM (#13603337) Homepage
    Ok so my questions:
    * how usable are those mitten-like hand things? can it fetch me a beer from the fridge? or just order a beer online to be delivered?
    * does it include a Roomba []? If it's going to be rolling around my apartment anyway...
    * with a 10,000 word vocabulary, what kind of conversation can you have with it? i'm imagning a weird sort of Japanese "Eliza" (Eriza?). "Why do you think it is imporant to wake up at 6:00?"
  • Asimov's "Three Laws" robots (not the Will Smith travesties) were predicated on immutable hardcode for trustworthy, though often surprisingly novel behavior. Linux robots can run anything we want to apt-get. How are these droids safe from attack and "upgrade" by a slaver?
  • WONDERFUL! Now I can have some 1337 h4x0r break into my robot and re-program him to do all kinds of nasty (and hopefully not homocidal) things.

1 Mole = 007 Secret Agents