A 13.4 inch-tall humanoid robot named Kirobo will be launched into space in August. Kirobo, which has the capability to speak and carry out conversations, will join Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakada aboard the International Space Station as a conversation partner. Great news, so long as Kirobo will not be given control of the pod bay doors.
Kirobo fielded questions from journalists in Tokyo in a scene that must have been strangely familiar to them. Canned, robotic responses from a mindless drone at a press conference? This seems exactly like what most journalists have experienced previously.
According to its website, the Kibo Robot Project‘s goal is to “help solve the problems brought about by a society that has become more individualized and less communicative,” by giving people robots to talk to. The model that will go into space is called Kirobo, a play on ‘robot’ and ‘kibo,’ which means ‘hope’ in Japanese. The small robot can speak Japanese, recognize facial features, and learn from past recorded conversations to improve its communication.
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