If you're tired of lonely drives and pine for a 10cm-tall companion that could sit in your Prius' cup holder, well, does Toyota ever have the product for you. The world's biggest car company will sell its Kirobo Mini robot, first announced at last year's Tokyo Motor Show, sometime in 2017 for 39,800 yen in Japan — about $400.
It's a smaller version of Kirobo, the robot that Toyota joint-developed and sent into space in 2013 alongside Koichi Wakata, the first Japanese astronaut to command the International Space Station. Kirobo Mini's ambitions are a little more grounded, not aiming to be much more than a simple communication partner. From the video below, Toyota's marketing appears to be tugging on the same heartstrings as Sharp's recent (and five times as expensive) RoboHon phone, with which it shares an uncanny resemblance.
The extent of Kirobo Mini's capabilities isn't quite clear, but it requires a smartphone connection and a monthly 300 yen ($3) subscription fee. Toyota will show off Kirobo Mini at this week's CEATEC trade show in Tokyo, so we'll try to take a closer look soon.