DriveWrite Automotive

Konnichiwa Kiddies!

It probably hasn’t escaped your notice that the human race is daily becoming more and more childlike. When somebody dies, obviously it is a tragedy to someone somewhere but when some celebrity or well-known individual shuffles off this mortal coil there is a mawkish mass outpouring of grief from people who have never met and are completely unknown to the recently departed. The stoicism of history has been replaced by a media-led frenzy that whips up the gullible, tearful crowd.

Which brings me nicely on to Toyota. With the exception of the brilliant GT86 – a diamond in a sea of zircon – the Toyota range of cars can best be described as vapid. They are about as exciting as a monk’s biography. Certainly they are well made, do the job and sell in huge numbers, presumably to people who are totally uninterested in cars. This is fair enough. It wouldn’t do for us all to be of a mind; but if you are in any way wanting to derive a driver’s pleasure from owning your car you will likely look elsewhere. What they do have in common with other makers though is a preponderance of technology.

As our motors have become more and more technically advanced it is my contention that driving ability is getting worse as a result. You know this is true; you’ve seen it for yourself. Aside from the necessity for safety equipment there is far too much superfluous stuff to fiddle about with on a car without even considering mobile devices. Toyota’s answer to this is to add a new toy that is actually a toy – except it’s for adults.

The Japanese company have themselves admitted that their vehicles don’t exactly blow our skirts up; however instead of introducing steering with more feel or a touch more power and driver involvement they have instead announced a new four inch toy (and don’t even begin to go there) that is supposed to make their motors more fun.

It is a robot and it is called Kirobo. His (?) home is a cupholder of your choice where he can keep an eye on you with his facial recognition software. The company have actually said – presumably whilst keeping an entirely straight poker face – that if the driver befriends Kirobo he or she will enjoy their time in their Toyota.

If you wear a frown Kirobo will be sad. Turn that frown upside down and Kirobo will get – he tells you this personally it seems, but right now only in his native tongue – a warm feeling in his heart. An emotional robot – who’d have though it? I have checked a calendar and it isn’t even April 1st. Is it any wonder that the human race is getting increasingly puerile? There’s only so much pleasure a four inch toy can bring an adult (Look; I’ve warned you, right) before the novelty wears off and you sling it in the toy box that was once a glove compartment.

For pity’s sake; Kirobo is something you’d buy in the toy shop for your toddler. I don’t know if Toyota plan to market this thing but if they did and, in your childlike innocence, you purchased one and took pleasure from it, how long do you think it would be before the obsequious, suspiciously cheerful little robo-blighter gets on your wick and you give it to an actual kid who will systematically destroy it in minutes? It’s a juvenile gimmick that is presumably cheaper than engineering in some proper real car-like enjoyment to make Toyota interesting again. Maybe Steve Davis would buy one as a conversation piece but if I hear that this thing gets on the market in a big way and people are seriously buying it in droves then I will lobby Pampers to bring out some adult nappies to save you having to stop en route for a wee-wee.    Geoff Maxted