Omron has a pet robot for cat lovers

Problem: you want to own a pet robot, but you are a cat person -- and most available entertainment pet robots, such as Sony Corp.'s Aibo, are dog-like.

Now, Japanese electronic component maker Omron Corp. has an answer: a cat-like entertainment robot that looks furry and real, and responds to its owner, the company announced Tuesday.

The Necoro robot, which comes in two colors, is covered with artificial fur. Necoro is equipped with sensors on its head, chin, cheek and back, which can sense when it is touched. It also has voice recognition and visual recognition systems, and contains an acceleration sensor which detects its own posture, according to a company statement.

"By patting, holding and talking to the robot, users can communicate with the robot," said Tadashi Katsuno, a spokesman for Omron.

The company developed a programmed system called Mac (mind and consciousness) that gives a robot abilities to learn and build emotions, the statement said.

Necoro cannot walk around but its body's 15 joints allow it to sit down and stand up naturally. Via a built-in audio speaker, it makes 48 different mews. A rechargeable battery lasts up to one and a half hours.

A limited number of 5,000 robots will be on sale on Nov. 20 at 185,000 yen (AUD$2763), available for order only by telephone or Internet within Japan, Katsuno said.

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