Watch: Toyota's made a tiny robot to prevent you getting lonely

Car manufacturer Toyota is launching a ‘communications partner’ in the form of a handheld robot which can hold conversations, make hand gestures and even respond to human emotions.

On sale in Japan from next year, the Kirobo Mini is just 10cm tall and has been designed to act as a ‘constant companion’ in a country which suffers from a low birth rate.

Sold by selected Toyota dealers, the robot can be operated using a dedicated smartphone app and can use its connected features to work with your home and car to generate discussion.

For example, on pulling into your driveway it could comment ‘welcome home’, or ‘that was a long drive’.

It will, over time, get to know its owners likes and dislikes – and tailor discussion based on past events.

The Kirobo Mini has been developed as part of Toyota’s Heart Project, which aims to create human-like interactions between man and machine.

Its older sibling, the Kirobo, measured 34cm and was developed by the University of Tokyo to accompany Koichi Wakata, the commander of the International Space Station at the time.

Toyota is following in the footsteps of Honda, who launched its humanoid robot ‘Asimo’ in 2000. Honda’s 130cm tall robot can climb stairs and recognise facial gestures.

When Kirobo Mini goes on sale in Japan, it will cost around £300 plus tax.