Owning a humanoid robot isn’t cheap.

Honda’s ASIMO will set you back about $150,000 — per month. Sony’s SDR-4X will cost you as much as a luxury car.

But if you’re a robot enthusiast, don’t despair. Thanks to a Canadian company, in a few months you could have your very own robot companion for $1,500 to $3,100 — and those are Canadian dollars. (You do the math.)

Paging Dr. Robot

A product of Dr. Robot Inc. of Markham, Ontario, the presently unnamed robot is about two feet tall and looks like a tanned ASIMO on a diet.

But despite its smaller size, the robot has an impressive array of features:

  • Artificial intelligence: The company says that the robot will learn about its environment and human companions and react to people’s preferences over time.

  • Information delivery: The robot can provide personalized information, such as stock updates and appointment reminders. It can also retrieve information from the Internet.

  • Entertainment: Similar to Sony’s humanoid robot, color recognition, face recognition, picture-taking, voice recognition and voice synthesis are features of Dr. Robot’s product. When the robot has Internet access, its features expand to include such things as playing music.

  • Unique personality: The robot will develop a unique personality in reaction to interactions with its owner — what essentially amounts to an “upbringing.”

  • Independence: When not given a task, the robot will wander around the house independently, avoiding obstacles. If it falls down, it can get up by itself.

  • Remote control: Owners can control the robot and look through its eyes over the Internet. This also allows for home monitoring from a distance.

From garage to market

“Intelligent personal robotic companion,” is how Dr. Robot’s chief executive officer Haipeng Xie described the machine in an interview with the Toronto Star.

Xie did early work on the robot in his garage. His background in robotics includes a Ph.D. from the University of Western Ontario and time with the Canadian Space Agency developing parts for the International Space Station.

Last year, Xie got a chance to turn his vision for an intelligent robot into reality when two cofounders of huge Canadian computer computer chip maker ATI Technologies Inc — itself a company that started in a garage — provided funding.

The first batch of Dr. Robot’s humanoids should be on the market next year.

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