A bug that does the cleaning? This 1-meter (39-inch) tall, 1.35-meter (53-inch) long prototype robot ' named "Lady Bird" ' is designed to clean public restrooms at highway rest areas. It is equipped with water tanks, brushes and other tools needed for heavy-duty scrubbing. Obstacle detection sensors allow the robot to safely perform its duties without running into people.
In addition to cleaning, Lady Bird can engage in simple conversation with restroom users, thanks to microphones in its "antennae," speech recognition capabilities and a voice synthesizer. The robot has access to the latest information about traffic conditions on nearby roads, which it can relay to anyone comfortable enough to ask.
The developers, who are building Lady Bird for West Nippon Expressway Company Limited (NEXCO), aim to complete the machine by March 2009, and they hope to one day see it cleaning toilets at hotels and other institutions. Lady Bird robots are expected to sell for about 3.5 million yen ($30,000) each.