Toyota will sell you a tiny robot friend for 400

first_img Robots that can vacuum or clean your gutters might be practical, but they don’t offer much in the way of companionship. Not like Toyota’s cheery little Kirobo Mini bot.And when I say little, I mean little. Kirobo Mini was designed to fit conveniently in the palm of your hand — or in your vehicle’s cup holder because it really wouldn’t be smart to hold a robot in your palm while you drive. He’s a scaled-down version (just 4 inches when seated) of a similar robot that Toyota sent to the ISS three years ago.Kirobo’s mission was a bit different than robots that had made the journey before. It was there to provide companionship to the astronauts, which it did for four months. Now, Toyota’s redesigned Kirobo for a terrestrial mission: “to contribute to making life and society more abundant.” I’m betting something was lost in the translation of Toyota’s PR there, because the chances of Kirobo Mini making life on Earth more abundant seem pretty slim… unless it’s hiding some disturbing secret.Still, Kirobo Mini is no mere plaything. It’s capable of doing much more than just repeating things you say to it or spitting out pre-programmed phrases. Kirobo Mini has been built to provide “humanlike interaction.” Not only will it converse with you, but it can also detect and respond to your emotions, remember important details, and learn from your conversations. And those conversations aren’t all delivered with a Funzo-esque monotone. Kirobo Mini adjusts its tone to suit the topic.Being a good companion is about more than just listening and speaking, which is why Toyota also made sure that Kirobo Mini’s body language closely mimics our own. When it’s listening, it will make subtle movements and blink — because even a tiny robot peering intently at you without blinking can be a bit unsettling.Those of you who’re ready to embrace Toyota’s vision of the future of companionship are probably wondering how much you’ll have to pay to get in on the action. Kirobo Mini will sell for about $400 when it goes on sale this year, and you need to subscribe to a monthly service for $3 a month to keep the good times rolling. Stay on target Evan Rachel Wood Just As Disturbed by Humanoid Sophia As Everyone ElseCIMON Returns to Earth After 14 Months on ISS last_img

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