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British inventor creates robot companion

A British inventor has created a robot companion that can conduct conversations, play music and control household appliances.

13 Aug 2010

Aimec the Robot with Tony Ellis and his wife Judie Photo: JOHN CONNOR

Tony Ellis and his wife Judie built the four-foot plastic gadget called Aimec 3 to provide entertainment as well as performing useful functions. Using a camera in one eye it can wheel its way through the house and understands verbal instructions. As well as turning on the TV or dimming the lights, the robot is able to access the internet to read the news and find answers to questions. It can even sing, tell jokes and do impressions.

Aimec - short for Artificially Intelligent Mechanical Electronic Companion 3 - is the latest in a long line of robots which have been brought to life in the unlikely rural setting of the couple's neat 18th century country home in Crowborough, East Sussex.

Mr and Mrs Ellis are waiting to find a manufacturer to produce Aimec 3 commercially, but believe it could be in the shops within 2 years and sell for around £200. Mr Ellis said: "In 10 years every home will have a robot. They will help mow the lawn, cook, clean the house. The potential applications are endless. One thing is for sure - robots will be huge. We are at the same stage as computers in the 1980s, when everyone was saying they would never take off. We are just on the cusp. I can see it as clear as day."

Mr and Mrs Ellis run a toy company called Conceptioneering, working at the cutting edge of robot technology from a tiny workshop on the first floor, crammed with computers and 30 years worth of robotic experiments.

Mr Ellis decided to become a full-time inventor in 2001, after a career as an electronic engineer working on early GPS systems, airplane technology and car alarms. His biggest commercial success to date, Cube World, sold in its millions worldwide when it was launched in 2005.

Source: Telegraph UK.

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