It was only a couple of weeks ago that we took a look at RIBA the robot nurse. The Japanese are keeping the health-related robots coming with General Robotics, the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) and Ibaraki Prefectural Health Plaza teaming up to develop ‘Taizo’, a humanoid robot designed to lead the elderly in physical exercises.

Taizo, which is a play on the word “taisou” meaning “calisthenics”, stands 72cm (28”) tall and is dressed in a velvety space suit. He sports a clown-like grin that is supposed to look silly to put the older generation, who are often a little frightened by new technology, at ease.

The 6.5kg (14.3-lb) Taizo has 26 degrees of freedom that enables him to smoothly demonstrate around 30 different moves for his followers to imitate. Since his assignment is to help the elderly, most of his exercise regime centers around chair-bound activities, but he can stand up to demonstrate some actions.

The robot can operate for around two hours on a single charge - which will be more than enough to have his target audience hankering for a nap - and he even has some basic language skills to help him understand simple spoken commands and lead a group in exercise.

Running on Linux, Taizo can also be controlled via infrared remote control and he comes with LAN (wired and wireless) and Bluetooth capabilities.

AIST and General Robotics have plans to start selling Taizo robots next year for around 800,000 yen (approx. USD$8,780 at time of publication) and also intend to make them available for rental.

Check out the video below for some of Taizo's best moves.

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