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Toyota's Kirobo Mini Robot to Be a Talkative Driving Companion

Image: Toyota's Kirobo Mini Robot to Be a Talkative Driving Companion

A Toyota employee shows off the Kirobo Mini robot. (TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 04 Oct 2016 06:53 AM

Toyota's Kirobo Mini robot can keep you company while you drive and even remember your likes and dislikes, all for just $400.

Toyota is hoping the four-inch high robot will make a perfect companion for travelers in Japan, where it will be sold exclusively, for now, beginning next year, according to CNN Money.

Toyota says that the robot can respond to facial expressions, remember trips that the driver and robot make together, and can even be linked up to the vehicle and home devices "to make the conversation more lively."

The Kirobo Mini is enabled through Bluetooth technology to smartphones installed with a dedicated app, said a Toyota news release. Through a built-in camera, the robot can adjust to the driver's manner of speaking and movement.

"Kirobo Mini is a miniature communication partner developed to provide companionship," stated a Toyota. "… It turns its head toward the person speaking and engages in casual conversation while moving its head and hands. Its compact size means it can be taken just about anywhere, helping it to fulfill its role as a cuddly companion always on hand for heart-touching communication."

Toyota said the Kirobo Mini can adjust its conversation to the user and can be taken beyond the vehicle. The robot will try to provide some encouragement with phrases like "That was a long drive. Good job," and "Welcome home. A warm bath is waiting."

"While Kirobo isn't exactly C-3PO, it certainly shows how the company is considering novel applications for robotics and artificial intelligence in cars," said Mike Murphy, a writer with the website Quartz, referring to Luke Skywalker's robotic companion in "Star Wars."

Quartz said the robot's "big brother," also named Kirobo, lived more than a year on the International Space Station back in 2013, allowing researchers to find out how robots and humans can interact in the close confines of a spaceship.

The website said Toyota has spent $1 billion on robotics and self-driving cars recently, targeting quality of life issues.

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Toyota's Kirobo Mini robot can keep you company while you drive and even remember your likes and dislikes, all for just $400.
toyota, kirobo, mini, robot
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2016-53-04
Tuesday, 04 Oct 2016 06:53 AM
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