Japan has always been at the forefront of robotics, driven by the need to prepare itself for an ever more aging population that is looking for ways to support itself. So it comes as no surprise that when we talk about Robot Astronauts, the pioneers are Japanese… Meet Kirobo and Mirata.
What makes these two little robots so special is that at about 34 cm tall and weighing only about a kilo, their Japanese language flows in a natural humanlike by any standard, learning as they go along. They can recognise faces and record video, and pretty much have a normal unscripted conversation as demonstrated in the many videos on their YouTube channel where Kirobo is talking with Commander Wakata – Japan’s veteran Astronaut – aboard the International Space Station. The main goal of these experiments in zero-gravity which they were designed to navigate in is to see how well robots and humans can interact, with a view to having robot astronauts assist on future space missions. Mirata, Kirobo’s identical twin in the meantime stayed on Earth as backup similar to how it would work with a human astronaut.
The Japanese surely believe that humans and robots one day will coexist. Kirobo, its name derived from the Japanese word for hope, and robot – is definitely an exciting step forward so who knows… Below the video, you can find the transcript in English – Enjoy!
Kibo Robot Project
0:04 A truly magnificent project of national policy calibre.
The world needs to know Japan’s real ability.
0:16 Summer of 2013
0:42 The robot astronaut sets out on a journey
0:47 Kibo Robot Project
0:53 Tsukuba Space Center
0:54 The hope of Japan’s technological strength
0:55 Environment test
0:57 EMC test
0:59 Connection test
1:01 Man: This will take some time.
1:02 Robot: Good work everyone!
1:05 Robot: I am a robot astronaut.
1:08 The hope for our children’s future and the hope of a future where humans and robot coexist rest on its little back
1:20 International space station
1:22 Zero gravity test
1:22 International space station. Hope. In the Japanese experiment module, a conversation experiment with Astronaut Wakata is carried out.
1:27 Robot: Hello!
1:33: Man: We’re counting on you.
1:35: Robot: No problem. I’m a robot after all.
1:46: Kibo Robot project
1:49: This summer, our adventure with the robot astronaut begins.