Japanese museum hires robot for US$151K per year

Japan's National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (NMESI), which was opened in July last year in Tokyo, has a new employee -- a humanoid robot developed by Honda Motor Co. Ltd.'s named Asimo, which will earn a ¥20 million [m] (US$151,412) annual salary. The director of the museum issued an official announcement of orders to Asimo -- at the entrance ceremony on Sunday.

Asimo, unveiled in 2000, is an 11th generation robot developed by Honda Motor, which has placed a particular focus on developing robots capable of human-like walking movements. The 120-centimeter and 43-kilogram robot can be operated by remote control or PC and can respond to several questions when asked.

Having worked as the star of Honda Motor television commercials, Asimo was offered, on a rental basis, to any corporation interested in hiring the robot as a guide or an interpreter at showrooms, exhibitions and other events in April 2001.

NMESI, which exhibits scientific advances in technologies, became the first organization to rent Asimo for a yearly rental price of ¥20 million [m], said Yuji Hatano [cq], a spokesman for Honda Motor. The robot will work as an guide at the museum's robot exhibition section, according to NMESI.

At the same time, NMESI plans to conduct research on how humans working as guides alongside Asimo will psychologically accept the robot as their colleague, the museum said. Asimo's movements will also be studied in an effort to make them more human-like, the statement said.

In addition to its job at NMESI, Asimo is expected to be hired by IBM Corp. and CAD (computer-aided design) architect Incs Inc., Hatano said.

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