As Sharp desperately sought financing last week to stay afloat into its second century, the scene was relaxed at its massive research complex in Tenri, a quiet, deeply religious town in central Japan. A guide demonstrated one of the moody vacuum robots, sending it zipping across a showroom floor with voice commands until it was time for the next exhibit.
"Go back to your charging station!" she said, enunciating carefully.
"Yeah, yeah," the vacuum answered, and spun off in the opposite direction.
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