(c) 2013, The Yomiuri Shimbun.

(c) 2013, The Yomiuri Shimbun.

TOKYO Panasonic Corp. plans to make a full-fledged entry into the nursing-care robot business, probably in spring.

The company will commercialize a bed that can be transformed into a remote-controlled wheelchair, and sell it to nursing homes and other facilities.

The bed is about two meters (six feet) long and one meter (three feet) wide, and can be split in half lengthwise. One side of the divided bed can be made into the shape of a wheelchair with a backrest and footrest.

It takes slightly more than a minute for the bed to be transformed into the wheelchair, according to Panasonic. The company spent three years developing the bed, which will be priced at about 1 million yen (about $9,532).

The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry envisages the nursing-care robot market will increase from about 1 billion yen in 2012 to 400 billion yen in 2035. The company, which is currently rebuilding its management, plans to apply its technology cultivated in the field of home appliances to such growing areas as nursing-care robots.

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