Posted: 03 January, 2014
Dentsu Inc. (Dentsu), the University of Tokyo’s Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology (RCAST), Robo Garage Co., Ltd. (Robo Garage) and Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) announce today that on December 6, 2013, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata and robot astronaut Kirobo held a conversation experiment on board the International Space Station (ISS).
The conversation, the first of its kind between a human and a robot in outer space, represents the latest development in the Kibo Robot Project, a joint research project carried out by Dentsu, RCAST, Robo Garage and TMC. JAXA is also providing extensive assistance
Autonomous conversation using voice recognition technology
Communication with people on Earth
Extract from the conversation experiment (translation)
Wakata: How did you get out here into space, Kirobo? Kirobo: On the Kounotori* from Tanegashima Space Center. Wakata: Right. So you came here on the Kounotori? Kirobo: Not the bird, of course! A rocket. Wakata: It’s incredible that you came here all by yourself. Kirobo: Well, I’m a robot! *Name of the H-II Transfer Vehicle used with the H-IIB Launch Vehicle
Further conversations will be held, and conversation logs and other data will be utilized by the project participants. The key aims of the project are to facilitate the coexistence of humans and robots, and to explore possible future deployment of communication robots in outer space.
Kirobo’s basic specifications
Dimensions: Height: 34 cm, Width: 18 cm, Depth: 15 cm (approx.) Weight: 1 kg (approx.) Language: Japanese Main features: Voice recognition, natural language processing, voice synthesis, telecommunications functions, gestures, facial recognition camera, recording camera
Key project developments to date
Nov 29, 2012 The project is announced; public begins proposing robot names. Jun 26, 2013 Kirobo and ground crew member Mirata are completed and publicly introduced. Aug 4, 2013 Kirobo leaves Japan for the ISS aboard the Kounotori 4 transfer vehicle Aug 10, 2013 Kirobo arrives on the ISS. Aug 21, 2013 Kirobo speaks his first words in outer space:
“On August 21, 2013, a robot took one small step toward a brighter future for all.”
Future project plans
Dec 2014 Kirobo scheduled to return to Earth.