A miniature robot, developed in part by Toyota, is set to become the latest visitor to the International Space Station (ISS). Christened Kirobo, the robot is 34cm tall, and weighs around 1kg (on Earth). He will take part in the first robot-human conversation experiments aboard the ISS (International Space Station) when he arrives there after his scheduled launch on 4 August.
After his launch into space, Kirobo will disembark at the ISS and wait for the arrival of Commander Koichi Wakata in November or December. In the Kibo Japanese experiment module, the commander and Kirobo will then take part in the first conversation experiment held between a person and a robot in space.
Toyota was responsible for voice and face recognition functions that are crucial to the experiments. Toyota plans to use what it learns from the project to improve the company’s partner robots and interactive conversation technology. However, before he was allowed to fly Kirobo had to prove he had the right stuff by passing a range of tests. These included a parabolic flight test to examine behaviour in ‘zero G’ conditions, and a vibration test, to ensure he was tough enough to withstand the intense force of a rocket launch.
Kirobo is one of two humanoid verbal-communication robots developed under the Kibo Robot Project, a joint research project carried out by Toyota Motor Corporation, RCAST and Robo Garage. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has also provided extensive assistance.
Both Kirobo and Mirata which is the designated ground crew robot are equipped for question and answer conversations. They can also nod and have face recognition as well as emotion recognition capabilities.
For more information please visit Kibo Robot Website: http://kibo-robo.jp/en/