Corazon Miller is a NZ Herald reporter

Robots queue at Spark's launch of the latest iPhone

They can dance, they can yoga, and they can wait in line and get their hands on the latest iPhone for you - all at the push of a button.

A long queue of Alpha 1 robots could be seen outside Spark stores in Auckland, Christchurch and Hamilton this morning.

The little minions were taken through their paces and performed a little jig as they held their owners place in the "queue" at the launch of the latest Apple phone.

The virtual assistants had been assigned to the first 100 Spark customers who'd signed up to get the new iPhone 7, in what could be the start of a new robotic shopping experience.

Customer and marketing manager for Spark, Clive Ormerod, said the robot army wasn't just about the novel experience.

"We wanted to give our existing customers an experience of the atmosphere and excitement of the queue for them," he said.

"They can get on with their lives and still be the first to get the newest device.

"They are pretty smart."

He said the robots, manufactured by Chinese company Ubtech, aren't available for sale in New Zealand and are "exclusive" to Spark customers.

Ormerod had his own robot assistant, which he'd nicknamed "Boris".

Although the robots are said to be able to do press-ups, Kung Fu, yoga and mimic Olympic sports - it's unclear if they'll do anything "useful".

He said unfortunately, the fun little gadgets, which could be controlled via an app, weren't quite up to the task of doing your day job.

Nevertheless one customer who'd been given a robot before the launch, lover of science and technology Dr Michelle Dickinson, otherwise known as Nanogirl, said her "Nanobot" was impressive.

"He's great - he's already programmed to complete movements and tasks, but I'm pushing myself to code him to do even more."

Fashion label Huffer's head Steve Dunstan joined the robotic queue via FaceTime on his robot, who he'd be naming Bark.

He was pretty "excited" about getting a new phone and said the robot was an added bonus.

Dunstan hoped Bark would do "hard yards for him" and save him time by acting as a placeholder in other queues.

He was looking forward to testing out what else it could do to make his day easier.

- NZ Herald

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