Lonely Planet Writer

Meet Kirobo Mini, the space travelling robotic companion for your car

Do you ever get lonely while in the car? Do you feel like a friend that you can chat with in the passenger seat would keep you stimulated on long drives? Well, meet Kirobo Mini, the robotic travel companion that is fitted with artificial intelligence and an impressive range of capabilities.

The cute travel companion is 10cm tall and fits in the palm of your hand.
The cute travel companion is 10cm tall and fits in the palm of your hand.

Kirobo Mini can engage in casual conversation, with the ability to respond to your gestures and emotions. A built-in camera and microphone enables it to recognise people’s facial expressions and assess what mood you are in, even offering up some encouraging words if it senses you are down. It has its own range of characteristic expressions, turning its head toward the person speaking and blinking or waving its arms. Kirobo Mini can learn from information in your vehicle and home, enhancing its conversational ability and adjusting to topics that interest the user.

Kirobo Mini
A Toyota employee displaying Kirobo Mini during a press preview in Tokyo. Image by Toshifumi Kitamura/Getty Images
The robot learns from users' emotions and moods, tailoring conversation to suit.
The robot learns from users’ emotions and moods, tailoring conversation to suit. Image by Toshifumi Kitamura/Getty Images

The compact companion fits in the palm of your hand, with a seated height of 10cm. A bigger first generation version of Kirobo was first introduced in 2013, with the 12-inch tall robot accompanying Japanese astronauts on a trip to the International Space Station.

Kirobo Mini is its travel pouch.
Kirobo Mini is its travel pouch. Image by Toshihumi Kitamura/Getty Images
Kirobo receives a certificate from Guinness World Records for being the world's first astronaut robot.
Kirobo receives a certificate from Guinness World Records for being the world’s first astronaut robot. Image by Yoshikazu Tsuno/Getty Images

Toyota plans to launch sales of Kirobo Mini through vehicle dealers across Japan next year, with nationwide roll-out being preceded by presales that will be made available online this winter.