Robot Astronaut “Kirobo” Has Historic Talk on International Space Station

December 27, 2013

Toyota to use this  experiment  to improve the range of interactive conversation technologies for its products

Dubai, UAE, December 23, 2013 – Robot Astronaut Kirobo and astronaut Koichi Wakata made history when they had a conversation on the International Space Station (ISS) on December 6, 2013.  The conversation was the first of its kind between a human and a robot in outer space and represents the latest development in the Kibo Robot Project, a joint research project carried out by Dentsu, RCAST(Research Centre for Advanced Science & Technology), University of Tokyo, Robo Garage and Toyota Motor Corporation. JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) is also providing extensive assistance. Kirobo arrived at the space station in early August.

This experiment represents autonomous conversation using voice recognition technology as well as communication with people on Earth.

An extract from the conversation experiment is enclosed below:
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!

Toyota is responsible for voice and face recognition functions that are crucial to the experiments. Toyota plans to use experience gained from the orbital experiments to improve the range of interactive conversation technologies it uses in its automotive and personal robotic assistance products.

Before he was allowed to fly, Kirobo had to prove he had the right stuff by passing a range of tests. These included a parabolic flight test to examine behaviour in ‘zero G’ conditions, and a vibration test, to ensure he was tough enough to withstand the intense force of a rocket launch.

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

Kibo Robot Project website: http://kibo-robo.jp/en/

For more information please contact:

Ismail Yagan
Public Relations Manager
Toyota Middle East & North Africa

Tel: +9714 2993875
Mobile: +97156 1797456
Email: ismail_yagan@toyota-menaro.ae

Walid Majzoub

Tel: +9714 3672530
TRACCS 24/7 Media Hotline: +97150 9448389
Email: walid.majzoub@traccs.net

Name of the H-II Transfer Vehicle used with the H-IIB Launch Vehicle