Who needs a self-driving car when you can have a tiny robot that talks to you throughout your commute?
That’s right, while other car companies are fighting for their share of the autonomous vehicle market, Toyota has been developing Kirobo Mini, a robot that fits in your car’s cup holder, talks, makes gestures and even responds to emotions. Kirobo Mini is slated to hit the market next year and sell for about $400 — so it’s probably not going to appeal to everyone.
But the mini robot is actually part of a larger project, the Toyota Heart Project, which aims to get humans and artificial intelligence working together in everyday life. In fact, Kirobo Mini is actually the second companion that Toyota has created. The first, a larger Kirobo model, went on a space mission.
While a mini robot can’t drive your car for you or offer a whole lot of other practical purpose to your commute, it’s an interesting piece of technology that could one day help Toyota create something that is really helpful for car owners.
Start Small to Get Big Things Done
But just like with your small business, it’s sometimes necessary to start with very small steps before you can scale your service or product and turn that little idea into a big one. The possibilities with artificial intelligence are seemingly endless. But you have to start small if you want to figure out what they are. And that’s what Toyota is doing — starting really, really small.