TOKYO – The new Japanese robot Miuro turns an iPod music player into a dancing boombox-on-wheels.
The 14-inch-long machine from ZMP Inc. blares music as it rolls and twists from room to room. The robot, which looks like a ball popping out of an egg, has a speaker system from Kenwood Corp.
Apple Computer Inc.'s iPod player locks into the top of the robot, which comes in white, black, yellow or red.
The $930 Miuro — short for "music innovation based on utility robot technology" — responds to a handheld remote control. It receives wireless signals from a PC to play music from iTunes and other programs.
At a demonstration in Tokyo, the 11-pound Miuro did a preprogrammed vacuum-cleaner-like dance, rolling about and pivoting to music.
"This is a robot version of music-on-the-move that's so popular," said Miuro designer Shinichi Hara, who also creates album jackets for Japanese pop stars.
"I designed it to have a gentle look because it becomes a part of everyday life by integrating robotics and music," Hara said.
The robot went on sale Thursday in Japan by Internet order, and overseas availability is expected in the second half of 2007. ZMP is hoping to sell 10,000 Miuros in the first year, targeting sales of more than $8.5 million.
The iPod already connects to speaker systems in homes and cars, as well as to earphones, but ZMP President Hisashi Taniguchi said robotic technology adds another convenience to mobile music.
"The robot helps you listen to music wherever you are without even thinking about it," he said. "Sometimes I don't even have the energy to put on a CD."
Separately sold options add a camera and sensors to the robot so it will map out its own position and remember routes, Taniguchi said.