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Japan to send mini robot to the ISS by mid 2013

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December 1, 2012

The Kibo robot project will send a small humanoid robot to the ISS in the summer of 2013

The Kibo robot project will send a small humanoid robot to the ISS in the summer of 2013

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Originally announced in early 2011, a small humanoid robot will be sent to communicate with astronauts living in the International Space Station's Japanese Experiment Module "Kibo" in the (Northern Hemisphere) summer of 2013. The robot will feature speech recognition and natural language processing technology developed by Toyota, while delivering twitter and voice messages from Earth to Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata.

The robot, which is being designed by Tomotaka Takahashi, was revealed in a concept sketch released on November 29th. Takahashi founded ROBO-GARAGE, and has personally built over a dozen robots, including some for Panasonic.

The ISS-bound robot appears to be a modified version of his latest creation, Robi, which stands 13.4 inches (34 cm) tall and weighs 2.2 pounds (1 kg). However, the space robot will come equipped with a camera and software trained to recognize Wakata's face – it will also use that camera to take photos to tweet back to Earth.

Tomotaka Takahashi's concept sketch of the robot
Tomotaka Takahashi's concept sketch of the robot

The project was organized by advertising agency Dentsu Inc. and a team of Tokyo University researchers, in response to a proposal made by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. They hope that the robot will help to relieve the stress and isolation of living aboard the station for long durations.

The group is currently accepting potential names for the robot, which should be completed by February of next year. A twin of the robot will remain on Earth, where it will perform public relations duties.

Source: Kibo Robo Project via Japan Daily Press

About the Author
Jason Falconer Jason is a freelance writer based in central Canada with a background in computer graphics. He has written about hundreds of humanoid robots on his website Plastic Pals and is an avid gamer with an unsightly collection of retro consoles, cartridges, and controllers.   All articles by Jason Falconer
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