First Talking Robot Astronaut
Recent media reports suggest that Japanese scientists have successfully launched the world’s first talking robot astronaut christened “Kirobo” into space by hitching a ride on a Japanese payload.
It has been designed to serve as a companion to greet Koich Wakata, the first Japanese astronaut who will begin his mission later this year.
The special robot is a part of several years of long research that tries to establish whether machines can lend strong emotional support to people isolated in space and prevent them from getting lonely. Reportedly the knee high talking robot took off for space from the launch center located in the southern Japanese island of Tanegashima.
The officials at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency claimed that the H-2B rocket carried 3.5 tons of food, water and other supplies and equipment for the crew of the space station. The launch of the rocket was telecast live on the internet by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
The childlike robot “Kirobo” donning red boots and sporting a black and white body derives its name from the Japanese words “Hope” and “Robot”. Reportedly the Japanese research laboratory module aboard ISS is known as “Kibo”, therefore Kirobo is the combination of “Kiob” and “Robot”. The tiny android weighs around 1 kg and its height is measured at 13.4 inches. Reportedly Kirobo possesses a variable range of physical motions. Apparently its design and structure has been inspired by the popular legendary animation character “Astro Boy”. The special robot has been designed in such a manner that it can easily communicate with several other robots on this planet. Apparently the machine has been programmed to communicate in Japanese only. Kirobo can also record all its conversations with astronaut Wakata who recently took over the as the commander of the ISS. In addition to performing all the usual functionalities Kirobo is also be expected to relay messages from the control room to Wakata.
The robot’s creator has claimed that Kirobo will be programmed to automatically remember Wakata’s face. Hence it can easily recognize him when they meet in the space. However as a safety precaution, Kirobo’s twin robot “Mirata” will monitor the situation to detect any kind of problem or difficulties from the Earth when the pair unites for their mission in space.
Several tests were carried out over a period of several months to ensure the robot’s reliability. According to reports this special endeavour is a joint project between a Toyota car producer and “Dentsu”, the famous advertising company.