A robot that can help around the house has been a dream since the Fifties — and now Evolution Robotics has unveiled ER1, the first “off the shelf” robot kit available commercially.

This self-assembly package may not require soldering, but since all the parts click together it will require plenty of patience — as well as a laptop computer running a version of Windows. The laptop sits in a cradle and, once programmed with the supplied software, the robot will listen for commands and move around smoothly on its small wheels without bumping into everything in sight.

It has a camera and voice box, and can carry out a few fairly simply functions: reading books placed in front of its lens, finding and fetching cans of drink with a robotic arm. The latter may be handy for armchair football fans during those critical World Cup matches, but in reality this is more a novelty than a genuine labour-saving device.