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S.Korean scientists develop walking robot maid

SEOUL, Jan 19 – South Korean scientists have developed a walking robot maid which can clean a home, dump clothes in a washing machine and even heat food in a microwave.

Mahru-Z has a human-like body including a rotating head, arms, legs and six fingers plus three-dimensional vision to recognise chores that need to be tackled, media reports said Monday.

"The most distinctive strength of Mahru-Z is its visual ability to observe objects, recognise the tasks needed to be completed, and execute them," You Bum-Jae, head of the cognitive robot centre at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology, told the Korea Times.

"It recognises people, can turn on microwave ovens, washing machines and toasters, and also pick up sandwiches, cups and whatever else it senses as objects."

The institute took two years to develop Mahru-Z, which is 1.3 metres (4.3 feet) tall and weighs 55 kilograms (121 pounds).

It could also work with an earlier maid robot called Marhu-M which moves on wheels, since both can be remotely controlled through a computer server.

You claimed Mahru-Z as the most advanced robot in terms of mimicking human movements.

Apart from tackling chores, researchers say it could also be used in conditions too difficult or dangerous for humans. But mass production for commercial use is some way away.

The science institute spends about about four billion won (3.5 million dollars) every year on robot research. It began receiving state funds for the project in 2006.

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