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Japan Sends Talking Robot Into Space as Part of Program to Help Lonely People

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Kirobo the Japanese-speaking robot.

Kirobot the Japanese-speaking robot will spend the next 18 months on the International Space Station.

Credit: Toru Hanai

A talking robot is expected to reach the International Space Station (ISS) in the next six days, launched on a cargo transfer vehicle from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Tanegashima Space Center. Kirobo is a black and white robot with red boots that stands a little more than 13 inches tall.

The robot combines speech, voice, and face recognition, and other communications functions, and its first task will be to communicate with Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata.

"The Kibo robot has a special mission: to help solve the problems brought about by a society that has become more individualized and less communicative," says the Kibo Robot Project. The program seeks to use devices to provide people living alone, including the elderly, with companionship. Kirobo, which speaks Japanese, will spend 18 months on the ISS.

From IDG News Service
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