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Originally published Tuesday, August 30, 2005 at 12:00 AM

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Robot can communicate and looks after the home

A 3-foot-tall robot that can recognize about 10,000 words and work as a house sitter will go on sale in Japan in September, its manufacturer...

TOKYO — A 3-foot-tall robot that can recognize about 10,000 words and work as a house sitter will go on sale in Japan in September, its manufacturer said yesterday.

The "Wakamaru" robot can recognize the faces of up to 10 people and talk to them. When linked to cellphones, it can also monitor situations at home, such as a burglary or someone falling ill, according to Mitsubishi-Heavy Industries.

It said it would be the first time a robot with communication ability for home use has been sold.

"This is the opening of an era in which human beings and robots can co-exist," it said.

Mitsubishi-Heavy said it will start taking orders for "Wakamaru" from Sept. 16, and plans to sell 100 of the 66-pound robots at about $14,300 each for residents in central Tokyo.

The owner's schedule can be programmed in advance, and Wakamaru can give a wake-up call and remind them of the day's events.

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