Unicycle-riding bot Seiko-chan learns new trick

Now, in addition to riding forward and backward at 2 inches per second and idling in place, she can navigate a curved balance beam.

Murata Girl on curved balance beam
Murata Electronics will showcase the 2010 models of Murata Girl and Murata Boy at the upcoming Ceatec consumer electronics fair outside Tokyo. Robonable

Remember the adorable little Murata Girl , aka Seiko-chan? The unicycle-riding robot out of Japan has gotten an upgrade. Now, in addition to riding forward and backward at 2 inches per second and idling in place, she can ride a curved balance beam less than an inch wide--without falling off.

Robot circus, here she comes.

In all fairness, Seiko-chan was previously able to navigate a straight balance beam, but being able to ride an S-shaped beam clearly ups her value as a performer.

Seiko-chan stands about 19 inches tall, weighs about 13 pounds, and can be controlled via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Tiny sensors warn her when she's about to bump into something, and gyroscopes on her back, plus a spinning disc embedded in her stomach, help her stay balanced. Murata Electronics, her creator, describes her as a "shy but lively" Virgo.

The company, also maker of Seiko-chan's bike-riding cousin Murata Boy, or Seisaku-kun, officially unveiled Murata Girl at the Ceatec Japan consumer electronics fair in 2008.

It will show off the 2010 models of both bots (including an energy-saving model of Murata Boy that automatically goes into standby mode when not receiving commands) at this year's Ceatec, which is next week. My CNET colleague Erica Ogg, who will attend the conference, promises to swing by and see the models--and hopefully smuggle a Murata Girl or two back for me in her suitcase.

About the author

Leslie Katz, Crave's senior editor, heads up a team that covers the most crushworthy (and wackiest) tech, science, and culture around. As a co-host of the now-retired CNET News Daily Podcast, she was sometimes known to channel Terry Gross and still uses her trained "podcast voice" to bully the speech recognition software on automated customer service lines. E-mail Leslie.


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