Toyota is making headlines with its latest creation, a four-inch tall robot called the Kirobo Mini, which will go for sale with a price of 39,800 Yen, which is just under $400.
The Toyota Kirobo mini’s price is considered a good deal considering that the robot can talk. It also has a few other tricks up its sleeves, such as the ability to identify emotions and facial expressions. Speaking of emotions, Toyota claims that the main objective of offering the product is to provoke an emotional attachment with customers.
The Kirobo mini price tag might be considered high by most people, but it is most likely the price set by the company in order for the robot to turn a profit. The commercial robot is an interesting move for the automotive manufacturer
The Kirobo Mini derives its inspiration from the Robot sent to space in 2013
The Kirobo Mini draws its inspiration from the robot that the company jointly developed in 2013 that was sent to space together with Japan’s first astronaut, Koichi Wakata. Perhaps Toyota hopes to use this fact as a marketing point that will capture the imagination of people. The Kirobo Mini is more of a chatting companion. Toyota claims that the robot has the learning capacity of a 5-year-old child and that it can learn phrases.
The Kirobo Mini features a monthly subscription
Toyota claims that Kirobo Mini owners will have to subscribe to a $3 connection plan. The robot comes equipped with a camera, Bluetooth, and connectivity to handsets through a special software. The company has yet to reveal more details about the functionalities of the robot.
“Toyota has been making cars that have a lot of valuable uses. But this time we’re just pushing emotional value,” stated Toyota’s general manager Fuminori Kataoka.
The general manager described the Kirobo mini as a faithful companion for the outdoors. He, however, stated that the robot will not have other abilities, such as driving, so the driver must assume all the responsibilities whether driving or walking. Toyota aims to particularly capture the interest of the younger generation.
The company is expected to launch the Kiboro robot in the market in 2017. The move by Toyota towards robotics is a far cry from the regular undertakings of the company, which are chiefly along the lines of automobile production. Toyota is perhaps choosing to expand into robotics and other lines of business on account of the growing pressure in the automobile industry.
Companies such as Google and Apple have come up with products and services that are increasing the pressure on automobile industries. It is also clear that the market has become more volatile with the entry of electric vehicles, such as those manufactured by Tesla. The younger generation has also become less interested in purchasing automobiles, and this has, in turn, forced automotive manufacturers to consider more persuasive business ventures.
While Toyota seems to be venturing into robotics, is still a long way to go from making a product that can be defined as the future of the industry. The robot Kirobo mini does not have motion capabilities except the ability to turn its head and wave its hands. Other than that, it is limited to communication that is enabled by cloud technology.
“I don’t think the robot is smart enough to call it artificial intelligence,” highlighted Mr. Kataoka.
Toyota is expected to reveal more details about the robot but there has been a lot of excitement around the fact that the firm has decided to commercialize such a product. It will be interesting to see how the Toyota Kirobo mini performs in the market.
[Featured Image by Shizuo Kambayashi /AP Images]