As if being on the International Space Station wasn't already cool enough, now they have a tiny robot on board to keep them company!
Kirobo, developed by the Kibo Robot Project (kibo is Japanese for 'hope'), arrived on the space station this morning aboard the Kounotori 4 cargo vessel that was launched into orbit on August 3rd/4th. This little companion robot is built with the future in mind — a future where we may be more disconnected from each other, especially for those who venture out into space, and also a future were we interact with robots on a daily basis.
Here's a video introducing Kirobo, and showing the kinds of interactions it can have with people:
(If there's no subtitles as the video plays, click the CC button along the bottom panel and click on your language of choice.)
Kirobo is equipped with software for voice recognition, face recognition, and even emotion recognition, as well as special 'natural language processing' software that will allow it to understand human speech. It apparently only speaks Japanese at the moment, so it's not clear if it will be doing much at the moment, but it'll have someone to talk to starting in November, when Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata arrives as part of Expedition 38.
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Okay, this likely isn't going to come as a shock to anyone, but I have to say "I want one!"
I only speak a tiny bit of Japanese, but I'm sure the robot could help me with that.
(Photo and video courtesy: Kibo Robot Project)
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