We reported that some Japanese companies are planning to send humanoid robot to the Moon by 2015. But, 2015 is yet to come. Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) wasn’t ready to wait till then. Hence, it launched a tiny talking ‘robot astronaut’ called Kirobo and a new cargo ship with tons of supplies towards International Space Station (ISS) from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan.
Kirobo weighs one kilogram (2.2 pounds) and is 13 inches (34 centimeters) tall. This robot has been built to talk with astronauts in space (be noted, Kirobo speaks Japanese), as well as people on the ground. It is equipped with voice-recognition technology, face recognition, a camera and emotion recognition and natural language processing.
However, Kirobo was packed inside Japan’s HTV-4 also known as ‘Kounotori 4’ cargo ship when it launched into orbit atop the country’s H-2B rocket at 3:48 p.m. EDT (1948 GMT), though it was early Sunday morning (Aug. 4) Japan Standard Time at the time of liftoff. The HTV-4 also carried about 3.5 tons of supplies, food and equipment for scientific experiments, which the crew of the space station’s current Expedition 36 will offload when the cargo ship finally arrive there.
Kirobo has been built by the University of Tokyo’s Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology as part of the Kibo Robot Project to develop new technologies in order to enhance human-robot interaction in space. It is expected that, Kirobo will speak with Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, who is due to launch to the International Space Station later this year in November. Here is the launching video of HTV-4 cargo rocket.
Kirobo, as well as the HTV-4 spacecraft will arrive at the space station on August 9 and the robot is due to return to Earth in December 2014.