Japan sends talking robot into space as part of program to help lonely people

Kirobo is part of a project to help provide companionship to lonesome people

Kirobo, a talking robot that also recognizes faces, was launched Sunday on a cargo transfer vehicle and will reach the International Space Station in six days.

The robot is part of a program that aims to provide companionship using such devices to people living alone including the elderly.

Kirobo boarded the Kounotori 4 cargo transfer vehicle launched from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Tanegashima Space Center atop an H-IIB launch vehicle on Sunday morning, the Kibo Robot Project, which counts Toyota and Robo Garage as two of the project partners, said on its website.

The black and white robot, with red boots, is a little over 13-inches (34 centimeters) tall, and combines speech, voice and face recognition and other communications functions. Its first task will be to communicate with Koichi Wakata, a Japanese astronaut who joins the robot in November, according to reports. Backup crew member Mirata, who stays back in Japan, has similar capabilities.

"The Kibo robot has a special mission: To help solve the problems brought about by a society that has become more individualized and less communicative," the project wrote on its website.

Japanese-speaking Kirobo will spend 18 months on the ISS, talking to Wakata.

The project earlier asked people to suggest names for both the robots, and got 2,452 entries from 1,226 people.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags popular scienceconsumer electronicsKibo Robot Project

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?