Japanese fashion robot to hit Tokyo catwalks

Tue Mar 17, 2009 2:20am EDT
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TOKYO, March 17 (Reuters Life) - From IT labs to photo grabs, a Japanese humanoid robot will soon be strutting her hard- and soft-ware stuff on the fashion catwalk.

The sleek HRP-4C runs on battery-powered motors located in her body and face, allowing the expressions, gait and poses of a supermodel, but on a stormtrooper-like silver and black frame.

The current 43 kg (95 lb), 158 cm (5 ft 2 inch) Cybernetic model has slimmed-down from an earlier 58 kg (128 lb) robot ahead of a Tokyo fashion show debut on March 23.

Its new shape is designed to match the average Japanese woman and has eyes, face and hair based on Japanese "anime" comics, said Masayoshi Kataoka of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, which developed the robotic model.

There are no immediate plans to bring the $2 million HRP-4C to market.

Japan, home to almost half of the world's 800,000 industrial robots, expects a $10 billion industry in the future, particularly as helpers for its growing elderly population.

But designers of the posing humanoid says she is wired just for entertaining, not housework.

(Editing by Rodney Joyce)