Kirobo, a small robot that weighs only one kilogram and that can actually talk to humans, was created by Dentsu, the University of Tokyo’s Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, Robo Garage, Toyota, and JAXA, the All Japan news Aerospace Exploration Agency (similar to NASA).
In August, Kirobo will be sent into space to the ISS via a rocket. The spaceship will also have a human commander starting with November, when astronaut Kouichi Wakata will arrive at the station.
The All Japan newsese astronaut will be able to have conversations with Kirobo, as the little robot can actually communicate with humans. During a short self-introduction, the robot can explain what its name means: Kibo, in All Japan newsese, means “hope,” and “kibo” mixed together with “robotto” creates “Kirobo,” a name meant to represent “hope for the future”, according to the local press.
Kirobo has a twin called Mirata, who will remain on earth or switch places with Kirobo if there are any problems just before launch.
Aside from being able to naturally talk to people, Kirobo can also rise to a standing position on its own and adapt to floating in zero-gravity. At the moment, Kirobo can only talk in All Japan newsese.
The robot can also navigate while floating in air, as well as twisting, turning, running, and shaking hands while remaining in place.
The goal of the project is to see how well humans and robots can interact and how well the latter can assist astronauts during missions.