Months after the International Space Station (ISS) welcomed their newest crew member, Kirobo finally gets to chat with another astronaut aboard the station.
Kirobo the astrobot may not be the first humanoid robot aboard the ISS, but he sure is the first one who intends to interact like a full-time crew member. Why? Because this little guy won’t just take measurements, do experiments, or hold tools, as it is also tasked with the important job of chatting with his partner, astronaut Kouichi Wakata, who is the current commander of the ISS Expedition 39.
What exactly were the first words that he spoke to Mr. Wakata? Well, he made a comment to him that “The Earth is quite blue indeed!” (uwasa doori, chikyuu wa aokatta yo!). Their first “test chat” also included a preliminary test of Kirobo’s basic functions, like greeting a certain crew member for example using facial recognition.
Kirobo’s boarding schedule to the ISS was first announced around June 2013, with the actual launch mission made the following months later in August. As detailed before, his technical mission structure will include the relay of messages and reports between the control room and other Japanese facilities. The humanoid appearance of the robot is intended to make it feel like he is an actual crew member of the station.
Hopefully, Kirobo and all the other forthcoming humanoid assistant robots would pave the way to the development of their full potential in various work fields (particularly in space). As Kirobo phrased it to Mr. Wakata, it would really be, “one small step for me, one giant leap for robotkind“.
Source: Asahi News (JP)