Stressing out about your next trip home to visit the parents? Anxious over their inevitable questions about when you will be supplying them with grandchildren? Don’t worry, because Toyota is about to introduce the perfect robotic substitute for your lack of offspring… one that will hopefully reach American shores in time to distract your parents from your singleness.
According to Reuters and New York Magazine, Toyota’s new Kirobo Mini will launch in Japan next year. The small robot, pictured above, has large, childlike eyes, and an endearing wobble that accompanies its sitting posture that is meant to emulate the real lack of balance that human babies exhibit as they learn to sit up. While I may want to grab one of these little robots to distract my parents, Toyota developed this robot to meet the very real needs among the aging Japanese population, within which more and more adults are finding themselves past childbearing years with no children. The Kirobo Mini was developed as part of the Toyota Heart Project, an internal initiative to bring artificial intelligence and human ingenuity together for a better world. The robot will join the ranks of other comfort robots that are popping up around the world to fill a void that people are finding in their lives, whether it be childlessness or loneliness.
Expected to launch in 2017, the Kirobo Mini will come complete with a cradle that doubles as a car seat made to fit in a car’s cupholder. In addition to the endearing wobble, the pint-sized robot blinks and speaks in a high pitched voice, though no information is available about what the robot will say. The price point for this comfort robot will be roughly 39,800 yen or $392.
Given the rising popularity of comfort robots like this one, we’re bound to continue seeing companies introduce more and more robotic versions of things in our daily life. Will we continue to see humans as inspiration for these robots or will animals and even abstract ideas start to have more sway in design? Only time will tell.
Image: Toyota Global Newsroom/YouTube