QUIRKY WORLD ... Billionaire reveals robot’s softer side

TECH FIRM UNVEILS ‘EMOTIONAL’ ROBOT

QUIRKY WORLD ... Billionaire reveals robot’s softer side

Son’s mobile phone company Softbank said the robot it has dubbed Pepper will go on sale in Japan in February for 198,000 yen (€1,420).

The machine, which has no legs, but has gently gesticulating hands appeared on a stage in a Tokyo suburb, cooing and humming. It dramatically touched hands with Son in a Genesis or E.T. moment.

Son, who told the crowd that his longtime dream was to go into the personal robot business, said Pepper has been programmed to read the emotions of people around it by recognising expressions and voice tones.

“Our aim is to develop affectionate robots that can make people smile,” he said.

Cuddly robots are not new in Japan, a nation dominated by ‘kawaii’, or cute culture, but no companion robot has emerged as a major market success yet.

POLICE USE HIDDEN GPS UNIT TO TRACK STOLEN TOY

USA: Police in Georgia say they used a GPS device hidden inside a teddy bear to track down the toy and apprehend a suspect in the theft.

Athens-Clarke County police say Mid-Atlantic Clothing Recycling had recently been experiencing thefts of clothing from its collection bin at Georgia Square Mall.

The Athens Banner-Herald reports that a company manager concealed the GPS device inside the bear, placed it in a bag of clothing, and tossed it into the collection bin.

Around 5.30am on Tuesday, the manager called police to report that the teddy bear was on the move. Police said the manager worked with the officer to update the toy’s location, and a 55-year-old man was stopped and charged with theft by taking.

SHELL SHOCK

ENGLAND: An appeal has gone out to find the owners of a tortoise in Devon — after it travelled nearly 480km in the back of a lorry to Norfolk.

Workers at a paper recycling plant in Kings Lynn were surprised to see the tortoise buried under a pile of newspapers which were just about to be pulped. They think the animal travelled hitched a ride on a lorry after being picked up from a recycling depot in Silverton, Devon.

A Mid Devon Council spokesman said: “It would appear that the tortoise must have been hibernating in a black box amongst paper put out for recycling.”

RODENT RUMPUS

USA: A man who played a dancing hamster in car adverts and was a back-up dancer for Madonna has been charged with disability fraud.

Leroy Barnes, 27, claimed he was disabled when a piece of ceiling fell on him, and the California Department of Insurance said Los Angeles man collected over $50,000 (€36,725) in compensation benefits in 2010 and 2011.

However, the department said he made at least one Kia advert, performed in a rap group, assisted in recording the song ‘Cat Daddy’, and was a back-up dancer for Madonna, Kelly Rowland, and Chris Brown.

MARRIAGE BUSINESS

ENGLAND: Ministers have been urged to bring forward laws to end the “offensive and outdated message” that marriage is a “business transaction between fathers”.

The names of the mothers of the bride and groom are not specifically recorded on marriage certs in England and Wales, although there is space for details of the fathers.

Members of Parliament have now told home secretary Theresa May to rectify the situation and bring marriage certs into line with those for civil partnerships to ensure mothers are “no longer erased from these important historical records”.

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