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Posted: Sep 05, 2013

Robot astronaut Kirobo speaks first words in space (w/video)

(Nanowerk News) Dentsu Inc., the University of Tokyo's Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology (RCAST), Robo Garage Co., Ltd. and Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) announce today that the robot astronaut Kirobo has become the first robot to speak in outer space. Kirobo's words reflected the importance of its mission: "August 21, 2013, a robot took one small step toward a brighter future for all."
Kirobo robot
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata, the first Japanese commander of the International Space Station (ISS), is expected to arrive at his post in November or December this year. He will then take part in the world's first conversation held between a person and a robot in outer space, an initiative designed to explore the possibilities of humans coexisting with robots in the future. The conversation will take place in the ISS's Kibo Japanese Experiment Module. Kibo means hope in Japanese.

Kirobo was transported to the ISS aboard the Kounotori 4 cargo transfer vehicle atop H-IIB Launch Vehicle No. 4, launched early in the morning of August 4 from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan. Kirobo arrived at the station six days later. Along with its ground crew counterpart Mirata, Kirobo is one of two humanoid communication robots developed under the Kibo Robot Project, a joint research project carried out between Dentsu, RCAST, Robo Garage and TMC. JAXA also provided extensive assistance.

Profiles of Kirobo and Mirata
Kirobo and Mirata are two humanoid communication robots developed under the Kibo Robot Project, a joint research project being carried out by Dentsu Inc. (Dentsu), the University of Tokyo's Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology (RCAST), Robo Garage Co., Ltd. (Robo Garage), and Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC). The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) also provided extensive assistance.
The Kibo Robot Project, which is still ongoing, aims to create a humanoid communication robot that will be a companion for the Japanese astronaut working in the Kibo Japanese Experiment Module of the International Space Station (ISS) later this year. Kibo means hope in Japanese.
Robot Specifications (Kirobo & Mirata)
Dimensions: Height: 34 cm, Width: 18 cm, Depth: 15 cm (approx.)
Weight: Approx. 1 kg
Language: Japanese
Main features: Voice recognition, natural language processing, voice synthesis, telecommunications functions, gestures, facial recognition camera, recording camera
Kirobo was transported to the ISS aboard the Kounotori 4 cargo transfer vehicle atop H-IIB Launch Vehicle No. 4, launched from the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture at 4:48 JST on August 4. Kirobo arrived at the station six days later, and will stay there for about a year and a half.
On August 21, Kirobo became the first robot to speak in outer space. Kirobo's words reflected the importance of its mission: "August 21, 2013, a robot took one small step toward a brighter future for all."
In November or December this year, Kirobo and JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata, the first Japanese commander of the ISS, will take part in the world's first conversation between a robot and a person in outer space as part of an initiative designed to explore the possibilities of humans coexisting with robots in the future.
Provisional Timeline
August 4, 2013 Robot astronaut Kirobo leaves Japan for the ISS
August 21, 2013 Kirobo speaks for the first time in outer space
Nov-Dec 2013 Commander Wakata arrives at the ISS
Nov-Dec 2013 Commander Wakata and Kirobo have their first conversation
May-June 2014 Commander Wakata leaves the ISS
December 2014 or later Kirobo returns to Earth
Source: Toyota
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