We’ve all been there: a long drive by yourself with nobody to talk to and just the grey, dull road to keep you company. It’s not only depressing, it’s potentially dangerous, as monotony can lead to lapses in attention behind the wheel. And while most of us are looking towards self-driving cars or better infotainment systems to address some of these issues, Toyota has gone a completely different direction.
Enter Kirobo Mini, a 4-inch tall robot supposedly capable of having a conversation with you, and keeping you from feeling lonely or distracted. The Toyota-made robot can understand human speech, turn towards the speaker, and even discern facial expressions, as demoed in these videos.
Kirobo can also be connected to your car’s systems as well as other gadgets in the home. The robot can also learn and keep track of your likes and dislikes to bring you a complete
privacy nightmare friendship package.
Toyota says the Kirobo Mini will be available across its dealerships in Japan starting next year. There doesn’t seem to be any plans to bring the talking toy to other markets though. But that might just be for the better, given that it’s approximately $400 price tag plus ongoing tax for app use, isn’t for everyone.