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 newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags popular scienceconsumer electronicsKibo Robot Project

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

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?