Japanese robot to go into space to chat with JAXA astronaut

March 02, 2013

By HIROSHI ISHIZUKA / Staff Writer

A humanoid robot that can chat in Japanese will go where no communication robot has gone before: outer space.

"Kirobo" was jointly developed by Toyota Motor Corp., Dentsu Inc., the University of Tokyo and venture firm Robo Garage Co.

The 34-centimeter tall humanoid robot will be launched aboard a rocket this summer and released at the International Space Station--a first for a communication robot--where it is expected to be used in communication experiments with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata.

The 49-year-old JAXA veteran will become the first Japanese commander of the ISS after he begins his mission later this year.

Members of the Kibo Robot Project said the little robot can recognize sounds and words and make gestures.

Kirobo can also utter words by remote control and comes with a camera that recognizes faces and records data.

Kirobo's engineers said they hope the project will lead to a wider use of similar robots on Earth by learning from the experiences of the experiments in space, a harsher environment than our blue-green planet.

Kirobo follows Robonaut 2, a humanoid robotic torso developed by NASA and General Motors Co. that visited the ISS in 2011 to assist astronauts in various physical tasks.

By HIROSHI ISHIZUKA / Staff Writer
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Members of the Kirobo Robot Project test the movements of their humanoid communication robot in a weightlessness experiment. (Provided by the Kibo Robot Project)

Members of the Kirobo Robot Project test the movements of their humanoid communication robot in a weightlessness experiment. (Provided by the Kibo Robot Project)

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  • Members of the Kirobo Robot Project test the movements of their humanoid communication robot in a weightlessness experiment. (Provided by the Kibo Robot Project)
  • Humanoid communication robot Kirobo is expected go into space this summer. (Provided by the Kibo Robot Project)

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