Publisher Kodansha Ltd. and other firms on Feb. 22 unveiled an artificial intelligence robot based on the Japanese manga and anime character Astro Boy (Tetsuwan Atom) that consumers will be able to assemble themselves.
The robot, named ATOM, will be sold in parts with the weekly publication "Shukan Tetsuwan Atom o Tsukuro" (Weekly let's build Astro Boy), from April 4. Readers who purchase all 70 issues can look forward to completing it in September 2018.
The robot will be released to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the birth of Osamu Tezuka, the manga artist who authored Astro Boy.
ATOM stands some 44 centimeters tall and weighs about 1.4 kilograms. The robot's exterior is made of synthetic resin. It can stand and walk on its feet and talk. It can also sing songs and do radio calisthenics.
Equipped with a camera, the robot can distinguish between different faces. It attempts to laugh along with users, and is able to discuss different topics and talk with differing levels of politeness depending on the user. Officials say it can communicate naturally.
The first issue of the publication will cost 896 yen, and each issue thereafter will cost 1,990 yen. Buying all issues would cost about 200,000 yen.
While the robot is being marketed as one that users can build with a single screwdriver, the company will also take orders for a fully assembled version, costing about 230,000 yen.