Kirobo, a small android able to have conversations in Japanese, has set records for First Companion Robot in Space and Highest altitude for a robot to have a conversation following an 18-month stay onboard the International Space Station. The robot astronaut was developed as part of a five-year, joint research project carried out in collaboration between advertising agency Dentsu, the University of Tokyo’s Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, Robo Garage, Toyota Motor Corporation, and JAXA the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
Weighing approximately 2.2 pounds and standing 13.4 inches tall, Kirobo has a sophisticated system for voice recognition and identifying faces, which makes talking to Wakata easier, according to the Guinness World Records website. Kirobo returned back to Earth last Feburary on SpaceX’s CRS-5 Dragon spacecraft, according to Guinness World Records. The cargo ship splashed down in the Pacific Ocean off California and was back in Japan by Mar. 12.
One of the project’s main aims was to test if a robot could provide psychological support to a human subject experiencing severe loneliness – such as an astronaut during an extended stay in space – by acting as their conversational partner. Looking back over the robot’s history-making stay in space, Yorichika Nishijima, Kirobo’s Communications Designer told TNW “The project launched five years ago, when nobody believed in human beings and robots co-existing. From that perspective, we wanted to send it into space to show that robots and human beings,can go into a new era. It’s a sort of symbolic project so people can understand how people can interact with robots”.