'

Robotic Japanese servant unveiled

A robot capable of not only doing the housework but even giving a backrub launched Friday by boffins at Japanese consumer technology firm Thames

This might seem like the ideal solution for bachelors and weary housewives everywhere but the device comes with a not-insignificant $47,600 (£28,810) price-tag.

The new "Tmsuk IV home robot" also looks enough like Robocop in a skirt to terrify all pets and small children within a five metre radius.

The formidable contraption is four-foot tall, weighs 220 pounds and is controlled using a remote control pad as well as some pedals. The Tmsuk IV even has cameras for eyes and microphones in place of ears, making it unerringly human-like.

Although this robotic creation reportedly missed its cue to appear on stage at Friday's official launch, it has already appeared on Japanese television riding a train and even shaking hands with its human masters.

Thames hopes to sell 10 of these robots in the first half of this year. According to reports, it believes that the design may eventually prove useful for defusing bombs, working in nuclear powerstations and confronting terrorists.

What do you think? Tell the Mailroom. And read what others have said.