Used in Space for Astronauts, AI Robot That Talks, Senses Emotions Comes to a Passenger Seat Near You
Technology| | By Robin Milling
Driving to work is about to get a lot less lonely with a tiny new robot companion from Toyota that talks, moves its arms, and can even read your emotions, sensing if you’re happy or sad (most likely sad since you’re going to work).
No stranger to creating cars – its first passenger car, the Toyota AA, was introduced in 1936. Now eighty years later the techno brains at Toyota Motor Corporation want to spread the feeling of affection and companionship with their cars in a different format, according to their Global Newsroom.
Introducing the Kirobo Mini, which is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and slightly under four inches when seated. It will sit nicely in the cup holder of your Lexus…or Toyota.
Its compact size has been designed so that you can take Kirobo everywhere, even space. In 2013, Kirobo went on a test drive with astronauts, and in 2016 made its debut here on Earth.
Kirobo turns to you when you’re speaking and engages in casual conversation using its head and hands to express itself. Its wide doe eyes blink from black to florescent yellow when it wants to communicate to you and best of all it can sense your emotions. It knows when you’re happy or sad, emoting, “Why are you sad?”
Fitting inside your pocket for a long soulful walk, it even has feelings of Déjà vu, recalling, “We’ve been here before, right?” It also praises your accomplishments with, “You did a good job!” And if you’re feeling down it instinctively reminds you to push forward saying, “You said before that it’s important to always keep a smile on your face.” However, like any small companion, Kirobo doesn’t like to be abandoned.
Kirobo Mini is here for you, becoming part of the family. It can sit on your child’s lap in the back seat keeping them company. Its concept video suggests, “As you live together you will come to love and be kind to Kirobo Mini as it does for you.”
At home Kirobo sits comfortably on your mantle in its tiny mug-shaped container awaiting your arrival. Greeting you as you arrive it says, “Welcome home! A warm bath is waiting.” It even makes sure you haven’t forgotten your keys in the front door.
Expected to be launched winter 2017 as part of the Toyota Heart Project, it will only be available at Toyota dealers across Japan in 2017 for close to $400 before tax.
As technology advances, this is just one way companies are innovating for the 21st century.
Watch the concept video.