Kirobo speaks in space

After four months orbiting earth aboard the International Space Station (ISS), Kirobo has successfully reached the most important moment in his mission.

One of two humanoid verbal communication robots, Kirobo is part of the Kibo Robot Project, and Toyota offered its expertise to this unique and exciting experiment to provide voice recognition to the little robonaut.

Kirobo is being joined in space by Japanese Commander of the ISS, Koichi Wakata, which has meant that after all these months the lead astronaut and robot have now been able to hold their first conversation – the first in history between a robot and human in space.

At 34cm high the little robonaut has now made history twice since September, as earlier in the year he became the first robot to speak in space. Not bad for one so small!

Kirobo is able to communicate in three ways. Utilising voice recognition technology designed by Toyota, his behaviour exhibits human-like feeling.

Firstly, he is an extremely good conversationalist. He is capable of answering and exchanging questions with humans.

He is also a great listener, attentively taking in what you have to say, processing the information and responding with sympathy and kindness.

Finally and arguably his most impressive ability is being able to recognise people. So when astronaut Wakata came face to face with Kirobo in the Kibo module on ISS, the little robot recognized his face and acknowledged him by name.

There will be many more updates from Kirobo’s mission in space as he is expected to remain there until the autumn of 2014.

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