17:34 04 October 2016
Toyota has launched a palm-sized robot that can hold conversations and designed to provide companionship. The 10cm robot features childlike attributes but is not designed to substitute for a child.
Fuminori Kataoka, Kirobo Mini's chief design engineer, said: "He wobbles a bit, and this is meant to emulate a seated baby, which hasn't fully developed the skills to balance itself,"
"This vulnerability is meant to invoke an emotional connection."
Prof Dr Kerstin Dautenhahn, from the school of computer science at the University of Hertfordshire, said: "It reminded me of the Tamagotchi - the idea of having a cute little thing that is not necessarily giving you the impression that it is alive but has these lifelike attributes,"
"They are appealing to people's nurturing instincts."
However, he said that it is not meant to be a substitute for a child. "It might make people feel good, but there is no human component here, robots cannot be substitutes for children," said Prof Dautenhahn.
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