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Toyota unveils new miniature companion robot

Posted on Monday, 3 October, 2016 | Comment icon 24 comments

Ever wanted a robotic friend ? Now's your chance. Image Credit: YouTube / Toyota UK
Kirobo Mini is designed to act a lot like a small child and is intended to help keep people company.
Standing at 10cm tall and with the alleged intellectual capacity of a five-year-old, this cute little companion robot is being aimed at people who are lonely and could use a new friend.

Equipped with a camera, a microphone and a Bluetooth connection, Kirobo Mini is capable of establishing an emotional connection with its owner and can interact with them on a daily basis.

"Toyota has been making cars that have a lot of valuable uses," said general manager Fuminori Kataoka. "But this time we're just pushing emotional value."

"He wobbles a bit, and this is meant to emulate a seated baby, which hasn't fully developed the skills to balance itself. This vulnerability is meant to invoke an emotional connection."

The new robot is expected to go on sale sometime next year for around $400.

Source: Independent | Comments (24)

Tags: Kirobo, Robot

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #15 Posted by highdesert50 on 4 October, 2016, 14:06
Research argues for a strong social support network and a healthy dose of common sense resilience skills as best methods for dealing with adversity, the uncertainties of life and even suicide. It will be interesting to see the research that follows this cult. But, one has to ask why is simplicity so rarely understood.
Comment icon #16 Posted by DieChecker on 5 October, 2016, 2:41
I read recently that most Japanese don't get married, or even date, till later in life... late 30s in many cases. So many younger people don't have kids, or may never have kids. And in the mega city of Tokyo, owning a dog might be a luxury that few can afford. So this robot fills a very real niche. I find that fact to be really, really, really sad. That society is heading toward a direction where people live singly and have little human contact, outside of their work and their online activities. Humans aren't made to live in that way. I am both intrigued, and repelled by this robot.
Comment icon #17 Posted by DieChecker on 5 October, 2016, 2:42
Comment icon #18 Posted by Chortle on 5 October, 2016, 5:49
I think Drefus offered compelling arguments as to why AI would ultimately be unsuccessful. But Its is disturibing to think companies have observed a gap in the market and are cashing in on companionship.
Comment icon #19 Posted by paperdyer on 6 October, 2016, 0:39
OverSword said: "It's one possible sad futures.  Just look at how superficial much human contact has gotten.  Our forum here is an example.  30 years ago they would have thought us sub-human." I think some of us are based on some of the comments I've seen.  I wonder how many of us are living at their parent's home in the basement.  
Comment icon #20 Posted by DieChecker on 6 October, 2016, 14:13
Well at least it is too small to properly hold a proper knife or gun..... 
Comment icon #21 Posted by KNash on 7 October, 2016, 6:04
There are a lot of different hormones that affect our emotions and not in just one direction. Emotions and hormones have a somewhat bidirectional relationship. Emotions trigger hormones and hormones can affect emotions. For example, feelings of fear lead to a production of cortisol which is a stress hormone that heightens our state or arousal and prepares the body to be able to mobilize energy. Additionally, low levels of testosterone and estrogen can lead to or increase feelings of depression. In terms of Toyota's mini robot, if it can trigger emotions in it's user then hormone release will b... [More]
Comment icon #22 Posted by Susanc241 on 7 October, 2016, 7:34
Noxasa was talking about the robot generating emotion within itself via its own AI intellect and querying its ability.  My comment was based on his post, that as a robot does not have hormones it can't produce or experience emotion as humans do, not the possibility a robot would induce/arouse emotions in its owner/user.
Comment icon #23 Posted by ChaosRose on 7 October, 2016, 15:26
I think it would be great for people who are lonely, unwell, and can't take care of a pet.
Comment icon #24 Posted by Noxasa on 10 October, 2016, 4:37
Then you need to imagine more because buying companionship has existed since the beginning of the human race.  This question is not about buying companionship, an already well accepted human behavior, but it's whether an AI can interact in such a way that that companionship has real value.

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