By on October 3, 2016


On the surface, it seems creepy and/or pathetic, but it could be a healthy new revenue stream for Toyota.

The automaker plans to begin offering a small, talking robot to Japanese customers this winter — a strategic product for an aging population with a low birthrate, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Kirobo Mini is designed to replace family members you don’t have, which might explain why it will criticize your driving habits.

Standing four inches tall and sporting really big eyes (can these things be hacked?), the companion robot will retail for $392 at Toyota dealerships and in stores near the automaker’s Nagoya, Japan head office.

According to Toyota, Kirobo Mini (known as Mr. Roboto to some) is able to recognize your emotions, not unlike a living, breathing dog. Dog ownership in Japan is on the decline, by the way. However, this companion can ride shotgun in your cupholder, is able to carry on a conversation, and doesn’t expel solid or liquid waste.

While Toyota sees a market for the robot in lonely seniors and childless women, the technology could find its way into the company’s vehicles. If you’re in love with your car now, just wait until it asks you if you’re feeling okay.

The automaker claims it could “assimilate hours of data to better the everyday lives of drivers all over the world, informing future innovations and developing transport that’s in tune with the driver’s mood, suggesting places to visit, routes to travel and music to listen to.”

Marketable, for sure, but we’re imagining a creepy future where frustrated, 30-something men turn to their cars for companionship. Like the movie Her, but with a crossover.

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