Robot buddy to keep Japan astronaut company

November 30, 2012
File picture. Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata (L) will be joined at the International Space Station by a small humanoid robot that can talk to provide conversational company.

A small humanoid robot that can talk will be sent into space to provide conversational company for a Japanese astronaut on a six-month mission, according to new plans.

The miniature robot will arrive at the next summer, a few months ahead of astronaut Koichi Wakata, Japan's Kibo (Hope) office said.

At 34 centimetres (13.4 inches) tall and weighing about one kilogram (2.2 pounds), the little is programmed to recognise Wakata's face and to communicate in Japanese, the project office said, adding that it will also take photos during the trip.

This drawing sketched by Japanese robot creator Tomotaka Takahashi and released by Kibo Robot Project on November 29, 2012 shows a small robot which will be taken into space with Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata. At 34 centimetres (13.4 inches) tall and weighing about one kilogram (2.2 pounds), the little android is programmed to recognise Wakata's face and to communicate in Japanese.

The robot will send information to Earth from the Japanese Kibo laboratory on the space station, where it will spend its time while Wakata is busy carrying out his mission as ISS commander.

A cartoon sketch of the space buddy was released on Thursday and showed a black-and-silver figure with bright red boots.

Mission organisers are asking for suggestions from the public for a name for the robot, which will also have a twin brother on Earth doing public relations.

A team of Tokyo University researchers, leading advertising agency Dentsu and robot creator Tomotaka Takahashi are organising the project.

The project's website can be found at:

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not rated yet Nov 30, 2012
They do like their toys the Japanese don't they!?
not rated yet Nov 30, 2012
Yes, Marvin the Paranoid Android is just the company you need when you are isolated for long periods…
3.7 / 5 (12) Dec 01, 2012
They already have a robot

"Robonaut is a humanoid robotic development project conducted by the Dextrous Robotics Laboratory at NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas. Robonaut differs from other current space-faring robots in that, while most current space robotic systems (such as robotic arms, cranes and exploration rovers) are designed to move large objects, Robonaut's tasks require more dexterity.

The core idea behind the Robonaut series is to have a humanoid machine work alongside astronauts. Its form factor and dexterity are designed such that Robonaut can use space tools and work in similar environments suited to astronauts."

-Perhaps this will lead to lively disputes over territory
3 / 5 (2) Dec 02, 2012
toys will make others jealous , and might cause feud on ISS

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