A 30- centimeter high robot named Kirobo with red boots and black and white body was sent off from Japan to the International Space Station to show how machines can make astronauts’ life better in space.
The Japanese-speaking robot does not only have a friendly interface. It is also equipped with voice- and facial-recognition technology and was shipped on a cargo vessel along with tons of supplies and equipment for the crew of the orbital research base from the Tanegashima Space Center in southwestern Japan on Sunday. The robot will arrive at the outpost on Friday, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s website.
Kirobo said at a demonstration that it “hoped to create a future where humans and robots live together and get along”. According to the international media, Kirobo’s main conversation partner will be Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, who is expected to take off for the space station with six other crew members in November.
Wakata is to take command of the complex, a $100 billion project by 15 nations, next March. Kirobo is a joint creation of the University of Tokyo, Toyota Motor Corp and Dentsu Inc and will stay in space until late 2014. The tiny machine is 34 cm tall and weighs about 1Kg. It is designed to navigate at zero gravity and its name comes from “kiro”, the Japanese noun for “hope” and “robot”.