Italian publisher DeAgostini began distributing the various parts of Robi the Robot in Japan, along with a weekly ¥1,990 (£12) magazine, so readers could start assembling him beginning in February 2014. By June this year, after 70 issues, Robi will be complete, reports Wired.
The company has already sold about £50 million worth of issues in Japan. “Among new markets are Italy, Taiwan and Germany, where the robot arrives any minute now,” Alessandro Belloni, managing director of DeAgostini told Wired. “Then the UK, US, France and Spain.”
Designed by Japanese engineer and University of Tokyo professor Tomotaka Takahashi, the 35-cm tall, 1kg toy is Robi the Robot. He has a vocabulary of 270 Japanese words and can understand more than 200. He can also dance and show emotion by changing the colour of his eyes and the readers can put him together themselves.
The robot can turn his head and pelvis 360 degrees. Microphones in his ears detect the location of a speaker and he will automatically turn his head towards him or her. He also has a built-in infrared emitter in his forehead so that he can function as a universal remote – so Robi can control your TV. Takahashi’s previous robots include Kirobo, who is now on the International Space Station. “Until now, we always paid too much attention to robots’ functionality,” says Takahashi. “With Robi, I tried to focus on communication and emotions. Robi has no practical function, except the pleasure of those who share their time with him.”