"THAT'S A NICE COUNTRY!" said the knee-high vacuum cleaner.
With my ample frame looming, Benebot (above, pronounced Beh-NEH-Bot) is a customer service droid, a cross between a Teletubby and C3PO, but gleaming white. He is excited to learn that we're from the UK.
We're at the robot museum in Suzhou, China, part of Ecovacs, one of the biggest suppliers of robot vacuum cleaners in the world.
Benebot is already rolling out in stores and public places around the world, offering a mobile natural language solution to the age-old problem of not being able to find anyone who knows where the raw plugs are when you need them.
Aside from Benebot, Ecovacs is in the business of autonomous roaming robots. Although not a household name in the UK, Ecovacs counts Europe as an expanding market and is the leading brand in some territories, including most notably, Germany.
As such, a small delegation of European journalists have been invited to come and see Ecovacs for ourselves, and in amongst a mixture of French, German and Spanish writers, INQ is the lone UK voice, flying the flag for Blighty.
Vacuuming is not something that we talk about a lot at the INQUIRER. But add in a heady mixture of robots, artificial intelligence (AI) and technology that neatly transfers into autonomous vehicles (amongst other things) and our interest gets peaked.
The company motto is 'a robot in every home' and you can very soon see why that's not as daft as it sounds. Like so many things that once seemed fantastical, a programmable pal to do the cleaning is not out of reach anymore.
'Roaming robots' are nothing new of course. But what has changed is that instead of bashing around randomly (we had one in the early days that we used to refer to as 'Mr Magoo'), they can now ‘see' and react. You can control them with your voice (via Alexa), teach them no-go zones and view the map that they have created of their environment on the app.
The full range includes a variety of floor cleaners (Deebot), window cleaners that cling onto glass vertically (Winbot), a multi-purpose cleaner (Unibot) and a forthcoming roaming cleaner and air purifier called, of course, Atmobot, a must for Shanghai's permasmog.
Back in the museum, we meet robots that dance in perfect formation to 'Let It Go' (which is every bit as ghastly and yet compulsive as it sounds), robots that claim to be better than you at air hockey (they're not) and robots that will paint your portrait for you. Then there's a huge lifesize humanoid that looks like it's been ripped from the set of Ex Machina. It talks extensively, dances and suddenly adopts evil devil faces. Sadly, most of it is in Chinese so we're still not entirely sure why.
Then there's fish.
In a tank of water.
This is a company that hasn't just gone into robots - it has gone all in on robots.
Next to the museum there is a classroom, so kids can get properly hands-on with some coding.
After a bizarre lunch of Subway and Starbucks (clearly trying to impress us) we're taken to see how Ecovacs meticulously prepares its product lines, ensuring both existing and future models (we're not telling) not only work, but keep getting better, both at cleaning and at analysing their environment.
We're not permitted to take photos in the testing facility, but there's a hive of activity, looking at quality aspects of everything from the bots to the boxes they come in.
Experiments with training models, studying the robot behaviour around different room layouts, different furniture configurations, and even differing distance between table legs are pitted.
Because a cleaning robot is meant to be autonomous, it has to cope with the switch between different types of floor, from the shag pile rug to the hardwood surface.
We're told that one of the challenges facing cleaning robots has been a general move away from carpets towards the bare floor. This means the bot isn't just a sweeper-upper, a top of the line model needs to mop and buff as well.
Then there are the artificial windows to test the adhesive suction of the window cleaning bots. Sure enough, just as we're being told about the high standards, one, with incredible comic timing comes crashing to the floor. The bevvy of stats collected will teach them what change they made that made it not-as-good as a production model.
The bots are poked, prodded, shaken and baked, over and over. Then, once boxed up, they're tested to see how they fair in transit - which means testing them all over again. The quality assurance process is, whilst something of a showcase for us, is shown off not as a piece of propaganda for the company, but rather as a source of pride.
We ask to see the factory floor. This isn't part of the tour, as made clear by the lack of English explanatory placards and high gloss. We're not allowed in, purely because there isn't time to get into clean suits and face masks, but we view from the door for a short time.
There's often a perception of Chinese factories as sweat shops, but there is none of that evident here. Happy workers, casually but efficiently building was the order of the day. An assembly line worker on her break munches absent-mindedly on a sandwich near her locker - slightly amused by a sea of white faces in her workplace.
Outside, there are trucks full of Ecovacs products being loaded. It's less than two months to Singles Day on 11 November- a day that eclipses the US version, Black Friday. Production has to be on schedule and ready for the biggest sales (and biggest discounts) of the year.
Back in the boardroom, we're given a rare honour. The company founder and boss, Mr Qian Dongqi has agreed to meet us, in recognition of this first Western press tour. He began the company making cleaning products, but was quick to see the possibilities being offered by robots.
Having been referred to in such hushed tones, we're delighted to meet a beaming, friendly and open boss who seems genuinely excited to meet us, answer our questions and though we were asked to give some hints upfront of what we'd be asking, there was no sense of rehearsed answers, or approved questions, and he and his colleagues were happy to answer spontaneous queries too.
We ask if he sees his robots as being even more integrated into the smart home, with an API, or perhaps Z-Wave or Zigbee. He explains he's in no hurry to do this. Google Assistant is in the timeline, but beyond that, there's still no real hint as to what system is going to win.
Then there's the age-old question where robots are concerned. Because although many Chinese people live in single-level apartments, in the wider market, there are, let's face it, a lot of stairs in the world. Surely there must be a solution to the ‘Dalek conundrum'?
However, the truth is not as exciting as you were probably hoping. It's not that the company can't make a robot that can clean multiple floors, but realistically, the mechanism to allow this to happen would be so expensive that it would be significantly cheaper and probably more effective for a two floor home to do something far, far more pedestrian.
We were a bit disappointed that our question of whether he believed that one day his creations would rise up, demand autonomy and eventually French polish us to death had been removed from the list, but decided to play it cool. We know deep down that's what's going to happen.
And with that, we pose for a group photo and head back to our tour bus, ready to battle our way through the insane urban sprawl that is Shanghai.
As we look at the cars, gridlocked on the freeway, it's easy to forget that the tech which makes Ecovacs work is the same concept that will eventually see all these tin can people movers become autonomous too. µ
*Yes, we know Daleks can go upstairs, as first evidenced in the 1988 serial 'Remembrance of the Daleks', so back off. nerds.
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