It could be said that sitting alone in the car in heavy traffic can test someone’s sanity. With stress and boredom levels reaching the tipping point, perhaps what we all need is a companion in the car. Say hello to Toyota’s Kirobo Mini robot.
Kirobo Mini is Toyota’s traffic companion and measures 10 cm tall. He (or she) sits on the cupholder and will hold a conversation with the driver to keep them alert. Toyota adds that Kirobo Mini will be able to maintain eye contact and even gesture to engage the driver and effectively hold an animated conversation as possible.
Kirobi Mini also serves as the smaller sibling of Kirobi, a robot Toyota made back in 2013, The bigger robot was built for the purpose of researching on how would a robot and human coexist in a cramped confine of a space vehicle. Kirobo spent a year and a half aboard the International Space Station.
As for Kirobi, his mission on earth is less taxing. To operate the tiny robot, customers will have download the Kirobo Mini app to access all functions. The traffic companion is be equipped with a built-in camera that can track a person’s facial expression allowing it to adjust the way it talks based on mood. Apart from these, it will also learn to grow with its user such as learning the user’s likes or dislikes. Kirobi Mini will even give feedback on the driver’s driving habits.
The Kirobo Mini will launch in Japan’s market at select car dealerships by early next year