One small step for Kirobo, one giant leap for robot-kind

Why do robots become astronauts? Simple: Because they like space.

Kirobo, a Japanese robot, blasted off for the International Space Station last week. The robot, which can speak and recognize faces, is going to space with the primary mission of keeping astronauts company.

Despite this, poor Kirobo will be traveling to the ISS alone, and will be unloaded and stowed away until astronaut Koichi Wakata, who Kirobo will be speaking to and interacting with, arrives in November.

Of course, one part of Kirobo’s purpose is also to provide companionship to people living alone in general. So, naturally, the best place to test the 13-in. robot out… is in space.

Kirobo is the result of collaboration between Dentsu, the University of Tokyo’s Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, Robo Garage and Toyota. Robo Garage and the University of Tokyo worked on the hardware, Toyota worked on the voice recognition and Dentsu created the conversation content.

From what I can tell, talking to Kirobo is just like talking to a real person. I mean, a 2.2 pound real person with a limited number of topics to discuss…

Sure, robots are already in space. But Kirobo is the first one designed to interact with humans in this manner. And, perhaps more importantly, none are quite as cute as Kirobo.

See also:
What astronauts really do on the Moon
Robotic beer dispenser showcases the positive uses of technology

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