Robot 'Hope' Goes to international Space Station

By @sachintrivedig on

They call it Kirobo a combination of the Japanese word for hope - "kibo" and the word "robot". The 13 inch tall kirobo, designed by Tomotaka Takahashi of the University of Tokyo's Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology (RCAST), Robo garage of Kyoto University and ad firm Dentsu, is said to be the first talking humanoid robot - it can process natural language and also respond to facial expressions. When Kirobo goes to the space station to reunite with astronaut Koichi Wakata it will be able to recognize the astronaut's face and also give an emotional response and greet him in Japanese.

Kirobo's ride to space was on Japan's HTV4 spacecraft along with 3.5 tons of cargo which includes food and supplies meant for the space station. The HTV craft launched from the Tanegashima space centre is called as Kounotori in Japanese and will be reaching the space station on Aug 9. A robotic arm on the space station will capture the craft and bring it to a berthing spot.

Every astronaut goes through rigorous training and tests on Earth to be certified fit for space travel and kirobo is no different. All the necessary tests including zero gravity test and electromagnetic tests were performed. A background noise test was done to ensure that such sounds in space do not interfere with kirobo's voice recognition functionality.

Kirobo's primary responsibility in the space station will be communication; it will relay messages and commands from the control center to astronaut Wakata. The designer of Kirobo

Kirobo has a mate back on earth called "Mirata" and will help deal with any problems, if they were to arise, with kirobo.

Taliking robots are the way for the future because life in space is very difficult and if robots can take over more of the responsibilities of the astronauts, we can envision a day when entire space projects can be entirely unmanned projects, reducing the costs heavily and improving efficiency. In the meanwhile, talking robots can be good companions to astronauts who have to spend a very long period of time without much entertainment

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