Japan to send talking robot into space as astronaut companion

June 28, 2013 at 5:06 PM   |   Comments

TOKYO, June 28 (UPI) -- A humanoid robot named Kirobo will be used in the world's first communication experiments between a human and a robot in space, Japanese scientists say.

The pint-sized robot -- developed by Toyota Motor Corp., Dentsu Inc., the University of Tokyo and venture firm Robo Garage Co. -- is able to use voice recognition technology to create answers to questions.

Just 13 inches tall and weighing 2.2 pounds, Kirobo will launch aboard an H-IIB rocket in August from the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture and head for the International Space Station, The Asahi Shimbun reported Friday.

Scientists said they hope the experiments in space with Kirobo will result in improved work efficiency for astronauts, and that they will find conversations with the talkative robot comforting in the emptiness of space.

Presented at a news conference Wednesday, Kirobo said, "One small step for me. One giant step for robots."

In response to a question of how it will go to space, Kirobo used hand and head gestures while saying, "I'll be aboard a rocket from Tanegashima Island."

After the experiments aboard the ISS, Kirobo will return to Earth at the end of 2014, project officials said.

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