Pic Boffins have unveiled a robot that, we're confidently told, can understand human emotions.
Named Pepper, the shiny machine has what appears to be a tablet computer strapped to its chest, and it resembles a cross between a mermaid and a, ahem, marital aid.
It is the work of SoftBank Mobile Corp, a Japanese cell network, and Aldebaran Robotics, which specialises in building humanoid robotics.
"People describe others as being robots because they have no emotions, no heart," Masayoshi Son, chief executive of Softbank, told reporters today.
"For the first time in human history, we're giving a robot a heart, emotions."
First impressions suggest Pepper is a bit of a show off. It did a jig in front of an audience of journalists and tech-heads, showing off its dextrous fingers and expressive eyes.
It can analyse its surroundings, and use emotion recognition software to decode human expressions and tone of voice.
Pepper's creators claim this will allow it to communicate with people "in a natural way". The gregarious machine can also sing, dance and tell jokes.
There's good news for those of us worried about a robopocalypse: there's a speedy way to stay safe if Pepper goes berserk. Just climb stairs. Although it has an impressive level of dexterity, it does not walk like Honda's Asimo, but merely trundles along on wheels.
Pepper will now start to appear at Softbank branches around the world, and will go on sale in Japan next year for 198,000 yen, which works out to about £1,150 or $1,931. ®