Toyota unveils tiny, chatty robot

Toyota Motor plans a rollout next year for a robot that sits in the palm of a hand and carries on simple conversations, the automaker said Monday.

The Japanese company will showcase the robot, dubbed “Kirobo Mini,” at the Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies, or Ceatec, opening Tuesday in Chiba Prefecture. Many home-use robots are expected to be featured at the expo.

The robot, which sits 10cm high, remembers previous conversations and places visited, giving it the ability to enhance the experience. Kirobo Mini reads the user’s facial expression when it talks. It also bases discussions on information about automobiles or the home acquired over a network.

Via Bluetooth, the robot is connected to a smartphone, which in turn accesses a Toyota server, enabling the robot to easily engage in various conversations. Users will need to install an app on their smartphone for a monthly fee of around 300 yen.

Kirobo Mini will be available at Toyota dealerships across Japan for 39,800 yen ($392).

Personal computer maker Vaio will handle production. Some dealerships in Tokyo and Aichi Prefecture will start advance sales in the winter.

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