Dentsu Inc. announced Nov. 29 that the humanoid communication robot it is developing will join its human colleagues on the International Space Station in summer 2013.
The Kibo Robot Project, a joint research project of the University of Tokyo's Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology (RCAST) and Robo Garage Co., is expected to be completed in February 2013. That summer, the robot will be sent to the Japanese Experiment Module "Kibo" in the ISS.
In addition to serving as a companion for the Japanese astronauts, the 1-kilogram, 34-centimer-tall robot will also transmit information back to Earth. Its features include voice recognition, natural language processing, voice synthesis, telecommunications functions, communication actions, facial recognition camera and a recording camera.
In winter 2013, the robot will come face-to-face with Koichi Wakata, the first Japanese commander of the International Space Station, and will take part in the world's first conversation experiment held in outer space between a person and a robot. A second robot with the same specifications will be built to serve as a backup and for demonstration purposes on Earth.
The Kibo project was jointly submitted by Dentsu, RCAST and Robo Garage in response to last year's call from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency for proposals to solve social issues in the ISS's experiment module.
RCAST and Robo Garage are working on the development of the robot's hardware, while Dentsu is involved in creating the conversation content. Toyota Motor Corp., a new addition to the project team, is responsible for the voice recognition and natural language processing functions that comprise the robot's intelligence.
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