Quiz fans might want to take note of the name Kirobo. This is the answer to future pub quiz questions about the name of the first robot to head into space.
Kirobo is a 13.4 inch tall robot designed by the Research Centre for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Tokyo as part of their Kibo Robot Project. The name of the little fellow comes from the Japanese word for “hope” together with “robot”.
The robot astronaut blasted off on an unmanned Kounotori 4 Transfer Vehicle. He isn’t heading to Mars or even the Moon though; he is going to the International Space Station.
So what can Kirobo do? Well, he will use his voice recognition technology, facial recognition and natural language processing skills to communicate with the astronauts up in space as well as with the controllers back on Earth. It is expected that he will pass messages onto the Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata and will all give him some sort of company up in the Space Station.
A Mediator in Space
Tomotaka Takahashi worked on the project as a developer and he said that he wants Kirobo to “function as a mediator” between human astronauts and machines, between people and the internet and even between two people.
The testing needing done to make sure that the robot could travel up to space included thermal analysis testing, a check on its voice recognition facilities in a space setting and electromagnetic compatibility testing. All of this went well enough to suggest that Kirobo can be a great success in space. He should be back on Earth in December to a heroe’s welcome.