'Kirobo' Talking Robot Astronaut Makes Historic Trip To International Space Station, Aids Human Astronaut Kochi Wakata [VIDEO]

By Philip Ross on August 5, 2013 5:53 PM EDT

kirobo
Kirobo the talking robot is the world’s first of its kind, and is headed into space to aid astronaut onboard the International Space Station. (Photo: Reuters)
kirobo
Kirobo the talking robot is just 13 inches tall and weighs 2.2 pounds. (Photo: Reuters)

Kirobo the talking robot is the world's first of its kind, and he's now also the world's smallest astronaut. The 13-inch-tall android, who wears red boots and what looks like a black-and-white space suit, has facial recognition technology and can speak Japanese. Over the weekend, Kirobo the talking robot was launched into space and is headed for the International Space Station, or ISS.

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Kirobo the talking robot launched Saturday from the island of Tanegashima, the easternmost and second largest of the Osumi Islands in Japan. The unmanned rocket he was on carried food, water, clothing and other supplies for the crew members permanently based at the ISS.

Kirobo the talking robot weighs just 2.2 pounds and has a wide range of motion. BBC reports the android was designed after the legendary animation character Astro Boy. He is expected to reach the ISS by Friday.

ENCA reports that at a recent demonstration, Kirobo said it "hoped to create a future where humans and robots live together and get along."

Kirobo is a hybrid word combining "hope" and "robot." When Astronaut Kochi Wakata reaches the ISS in November, where he'll be taking over as commander of the ISS, Kirobo will be there to keep records of their conversations and to help Wakata and ground control communicate.

"Kirobo will remember Mr Wakata's face so it can recognize him when they reunite up in space," Tomotaka Takahashi, the robot's developer, said.

IScience Times reported earlier that Kirobo the talking robot was developed as a joint project between the University of Tokyo, Toyota and the company Robo Garage. In addition to being an aid for communication, Kirobo is also a kind of experiment in how humans interact with robots, and will help scientists determine whether robots can be used to keep lonely and isolated people here on Earth company.

"Japanese people are more comfortable with the idea of living and communicating with robots, because that's a popular scene in [Japanese comics]," Takahashi said at a press conference earlier this year. "In about 15 years, we want to see a society where everyone is living with a personal robot."

Here's video of Kirobo, uploaded to YouTube:

Read more from iScience Times:

Japan's Kirobo, World's First Talking Robot Astronaut, To Launch In August [VIDEO]

DARPA Unveils Atlas, A Humanoid Robot Designed For Rescue Missions [VIDEO]

'Rosphere' Hamster Ball Robot Rolls Around Farms To Monitor Soil Conditions [VIDEO]

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