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Toyota robotic tour guide has personal touch

Robina really looks like a robot should - unthreatening and helpful

If your idea of fun is being shunted around an exhibition by a hunk of plastic and silicon then you'd better get over to Aichi Prefecture in Western Japan next week and get in line for the debut of Toyota's tour guide robot there.

The oddly named TPR-Robina robot will be on duty from 27 August to show visitors around a Toyota exhibition hall in Toyota city. Yes, the cars do take their name from the location, in case you were wondering.

Our humble servant

Robina is a 1.2m-tall, 60kg autonomous machine that moves around on wheels, using image recognition to find its way and speech capabilities to explain what each exhibit is. It can also read visitors' nametags and address them accordingly - an important skill in hierarchical Japan.

Better still - well, so says Toyota - Robina has jointed fingers that allow it to sign autographs. No pushing at the back there please.