Robot remedy for lonely population

 |Oct 11, 2016
From left bottom - Kirobo mini has been designed into a size of an apple that can fit on a palm and a car cup holder.
From left bottom – Kirobo mini has been designed into a size of an apple that can fit on a palm and a car cup holder.

In 2013, a small Toyota-made android robot called Kirobo was send to International Space Station (ISS), and became best buddies with Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata.

Kirobo who is able to show emotion according to the subject matter, could converse politely and would accompany Koichi around the station.

The first-ever space-based communication experiments between a robot and a human was successful and Toyota decided to develop a mini version of the robot and named it Kirobo Mini which was unveiled at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show.

Kirobo’s inventor, Tomotaka Takahashi, 41, roboticist and founder of Kyoto University’s ROBO-GARAGE patented his first robot model when he was a young student.

Since 1999, ROBO-GARAGE has created humanoid robots known for their sleek appearance, and smooth, fluid motions.

Toyota announced that Kirobo Mini which fits in the palm of your hand is designed to fit inside a car’s cup holder with its own “cradle” to accompany you wherever you go.

A recent ad released by Toyota shows Kirobo Mini hanging out with singles, students, couples, families and the even the elderly.

In urban and metropolitan areas where a large fraction of the population of people lives alone, the popularity of companion robots, like Kirobo, is garnering attention in Japan.

Suggestions that the robot could replace a pet is acceptable, however there is cause for controversy when there are suggestions that a machine could replace a child in a family set up.

As we progress, the young too have become lonely just as lonely as the aging population of elders and seek to form an emotional bond with someone.

Even if it is a robot.

Doris Lim is a Malaysia Outlook contributor with a keen eye for details developed form her background in architecture and design. Her affable personality and passion to celebrate life is captured in her stories of the community. Doris’ love for all things beautiful and quirky is tempered by her love for writing, photography, food, art and travel.