Robots are no stranger to space exploration or the International Space Station, but one Japanese robot, Kirobo, is making history as the first talking humanoid robot in space, according to ABC News.
“Good morning, people of Earth, the robot,” built by Densu, said in a broadcast. The robot’s name is a combination of the words “robot” and “kibo,” the Japanese word for “hope.”
In addition to voice, the robot also communicates by hand gestures.
The robot’s features are reminiscent of the classic Japanese cartoon “Astro Boy,” which was one of the first anime series to see distribution outside of Japan in the 1960s and is credited with sparking Western interest in Japanese animation.
“Unlike Astro Boy, Kirobo is only a foot tall and will not save Japan from alien invaders,” ABC News said.
Kirobo arrived at the International Space Station in August from a cargo ship launched from the Tanegashima Space Center, along with 3.5 tons of supplies. Kirobo will act as a companion to a Japanese astronaut, Koichi Wakata, scheduled to arrive at the ISS in November.
Kirobo is a joint project of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the University of Tokyo’s Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, ROBO GARAGE, Ltd. and Toyota.
The research time will record the interactions between Wakata and Kirobo. Fans of Kirobo on Earth can download an app called “Where’s Kirobo” which tracks the location of the robot. The International Space Station is visible to the naked eye on Earth under the right conditions, such as weather and lack of light pollution. There are already several apps that track the ISS’s location available on many different platforms.
The move might also help secure Japan’s bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Footage of Kirobo was included in a presentation at the International Olympic Committee in Buenos Aires, Argentina. If approved, it would be the second time the Games will come to Tokyo. The last time Japan hosted the Olympics was in 1964.
Edited by Ryan Sartor