Japanese parents who can't find a good babysitter now have an alternative that never gets tired - a friendly robot at the local department store. Major Japanese retailer Aeon Co. said it has introduced a 1.4-metre (four-foot-seven) yellow-and-white robot at a store in the southern city of Fukuoka in charge of entertaining the children. If parents want to leave their children with the kid-sized machine, they arrange for the youngsters to wear special badges that bear codes which the robot can read.
The robot can then identify the children by their names and ages and chat with them, even though its vocabulary remains limited. With Japan's population in decline, companies have put humanoids to use as security guards, receptionists and in other functions.