Cute little fella
Toyota has announced that a robot – or 'robonaut' – in which it has played a key development role, has been been cleared to take part in the first robot-human conversation experiments aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
Toyota says the robot – named Kirobo – has passed a range of pre-flight tests, including ‘zero G’ simulations and vibration testing (to ensure he is robust enough to withstand a rocket launch).
Toyota has been responsible for voice and face recognition functions that are necessary for Kirobo's ISS activities.
Launch is scheduled for 4 August from Tanegashima Space Centre, Japan.
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.
After launch, Kirobo will disembark at the ISS and wait for the arrival of Commander Koichi Wakata late this year.
Kirobo is one of two humanoid verbal-communication robots developed under the Kibo Robot Project. The other, ‘Mirata’, will act as ground crew, allowing the investigation and solution of any issues that may arise during Kirobo’s time on board the ISS.
Project Timeline (planned)
- Aug. 4, 2013 Robot astronaut Kirobo leaves for the ISS
- Aug.–Sep. 2013 Kirobo speaks for the first time in space
- Nov.–Dec. 2013 Commander Wakata arrives at the ISS
- Dec. 2013 Commander Wakata and Kirobo have their first conversation
- May–Jun. 2014 Commander Wakata leaves the ISS
- Dec. 2014 Kirobo returns to Earth