Companion robot on sale in Japan next year

A small robot, developed by Toyota, capable of conversation and emotion will be available to the Japanese public.

The car giant test-drove the tiny bot –Kirobo– on a space mission, keeping Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata company around the International Space Station. Proving successful, Toyota has developed a smaller version for sale.

The robot is designed to provide companionship, and with Japan’s ageing population where many people are living alone, is expected to be received well.

Kirobo was designed by Tomotaka Takahashi of the University of Tokyo’s Research Centre for Advanced Science and Technology (RCAST), Robo Garage of Kyoto University, and Toyota. Takashi said: “I wish for this robot to function as a mediator between a person and machine, or a person and the Internet, and sometimes even between people”.

The aptly-named Kirobo Mini will go on sale in Japan in 2017 for 39,800 yen / £308 / $383, with a small monthly fee of 300 yen / £2.30 / $2.90.


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