Toyota builds small robot to keep lonely people company

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Toyota has revealed a new robot called Kirobo Mini, which is designed to keep lonely people in Japan company.

Many people in Japan are living alone and Fuminori Kataoka, general manager for the project, says that these people need someone, or something, to talk to.


'Toyota has been making cars that have a lot of valuable uses. But this time we're just pushing emotional value,' he told the Associated Press.

The robot is not supposed to be a replacement for a human and has intelligence on a par with a five-year-old, says Toyota.

It comes with a camera, microphone and Bluetooth connectivity that allows owners to interact with it via a smartphone app.

It can turn its head towards a voice and respond to questions in a high-pitched voice.

The robot's name comes from the combination of 'kib', the Japanese word for 'hope', and 'robot'. It's 10 centimetres tall and will cost the equivalent of about £300 when orders start being taken later this year.