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Robots dazzle CES-goers with stunts, upgrades

Robots at the 2011 Las Vegas show ranged from dancing sweepers to iPhone-controlled spheres. Our favorite: a rolling back massage unit.

Pedal power: Bicycling robot Murata Boy shows off its balance beam chops. Murata Girl can do it on a unicycle. Tim Hornyak/CNET

LAS VEGAS--From robo-dinosaurs to mecha-masseurs, robots at CES 2011 ran the gamut of wacky novelty products like the Sphero iPhone-controlled ball and the WheeMe back massage robot to practical but funked-out floor cleaners like dancing Mint sweepers.

There wasn't a whole lot that was new, but there were enough debuts and upgrades to keep it interesting.

Japan's Murata Manufacturing, which makes capacitors found in many mobile phones, showed off its robotics skills with Murata Boy (above) and Murata Girl, which cycle along balance beams without toppling over.

Making their CES debut, the acrobat bots can stand upright even when stationary thanks to gyro sensors that control a rotating disk, which in turn corrects their slant.

Massachusetts-based iRobot, meanwhile, took the wraps off a more compact Scooba floor scrubber that can clean around toilets, as well as an improved line of Roomba vacuum robots.

The top end of the new Roomba 700 series is the 780, which replaces all buttons with a touchpad and has 20% better cleaning ability, according to the company. A wireless RF remote control tells the 780, which ships in spring 2011 for $549.99, which rooms to clean.

Check out more of the robots that appeared at CES in our photo gallery above.

The Roomba 780 has a touchpad, handheld RF remote control, and longer battery life. Tim Hornyak/CNET