It’s not what Kirobo says, it’s how he says it.

It might not be the most fascinating conversation in the history of humankind, but this exchange between International Space Station Commander Koichi Wakata and robotic astronaut Kirobo is a world first. It’s all part of the Kibo Robot Project, designed to test voice recognition and communication technology, and the key thing here is not what Kirobo – a name combining ‘hope’ and ‘robot’ – says, but how he’s saying it.

“Whereas others regard robots as working machines,” says designer Tomotaka Takahashi, “Japanese people believe in a future where robots and humans coexist.” Communication is a big part of that future, so Kirobo’s equipped with sufficient brain power and vocabulary to conduct an autonomous, unscripted conversation.

Yes, that does make this as much a publicity stunt as a serious experiment. Having a chat is little in itself; having it aboard a space station is. Kirobo came aboard the Station courtesy of the Kuonotori Rocket, an unmanned resupply ship launched back in August. Kirobo’s twin Mirata stayed behind, in case a backup is required.

Source: Newswire Press Release

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