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In Japan, robot-led weddings, robot factory workers and even squeaky robot pets are all fine and good. But in-home helper bots, which are the main goal of many robotics research projects, are anything but widespread, even in that robo-friendly country. Apparently old people and sick people, even in Japan, still prefer that human touch.

Rather than humanoid robots that do favors like pick up juice boxes, and even be-limbed ‘bots that wash people's hair, some roboticists are increasing their focus on machines like self-adjusting beds that turn into wheelchairs, as this BBC story reports.

Especially in Japan, efforts to build lifelike, useful humanoid robots often center on care for the elderly. Japan is an aging country, and it admits very few immigrants who could work as nursing home attendants or in-home care providers. But so far, the robots can't do enough to be very useful, robot companies and analysts tell the BBC.

Some Japanese patients shun robot helpers, throwing high-tech future of elder care into doubt