Kirobo Robot Sends First Message from Space Station (and doesn’t open pod bay doors)

by Nancy Atkinson on September 5, 2013

Want to stay on top of all the space news? Follow @universetoday on Twitter

The talking robot launched to the International Space Station in August has sent its first audio/visual message to Earth. Kirobo, the mini Japanese robot — which appears to have the bravado of Buzz Lightyear and the cuteness of WALL-E — is just .34 meters (13.4-inches) long. Kirobo is designed to be able to have conversations with its astronaut crewmates and to study how robot-human interactions can help the astronauts in the space environment. In its first message, Kirobo wished Earth a “good morning” and mentioned (and motioned) its giant step in getting to space.

The Kirobo talking robot on the ISS. Credit: Toyota.

The Kirobo talking robot on the ISS. Credit: Toyota.

Kirobo is part of a research project sponsored by the University of Tokoyo and Toyota, and the robot will be working closely with Koichi Wakata, slated to be the first Japanese commander of the ISS for Expedition 39, who will launch this November as part of the Expedition 38/39 crew. An identical robot named Mirata remains on Earth for additional testing.

Kirobo is designed to navigate in zero-gravity, have facial recognition of its fellow crewmates, and will assist Wakata in various experiments. No word on whether it will have access to opening or closing the various hatches on the space station.

Kirobo-and-Mirata

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

DarkGnat September 5, 2013 at 4:28 PM

Open the pod bay doors, Kirobo!

Gnat K. Coal September 5, 2013 at 5:44 PM

Gosh, I hope someone aboard ISS besides Kirobo speaks Japanese.

Martin September 5, 2013 at 6:33 PM

What is the point of having this robot on the space station? Seriously. Is this an marketing ploy to sell a ton of these when cheaper versions appear in toy stores? The supposed reasons for having this toy on the ISS sounds like BS.

K-dub September 7, 2013 at 4:21 PM

I think this is just FANTASTIC! I would prefer to read about revolutionary space exploration technology than read about young celebrities spiraling into self destruction. This has an important purpose. Yes I wish Kirobo spoke more than just Japanese, but it is a start. I am sure the developers will eventually expand Kirobo’s linguistic skills/library. This is the type material that should be placed in front of us rather than the smut that we are fed every day. In my opinion, the garbage we involuntarily see and hear every day should be left off to the side for someone who is depressed and needs to feel better about their own life. That is the garbage that we should have to intentionally search for. Revolutionary advances in science and technology should be at the forefront for all to see and appreciate, yet they are not… we need to make a conscious effort to look for it. If our society was more geared to moving forward rather than pointing and laughing at others’ misfortunes, our world would probably not be spiraling into idiocracy the way it is. We should be reading healthy, positive, inspiring news like this :)

Good luck, Kirobo! I salute you!

K-dub September 7, 2013 at 4:25 PM

Oh, and one more point to mention… don’t worry unless you hear him say “dai-mondai!” That means something very very bad happened. If he says “Mondai-nai!” than all is ok. :)

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: