Yes, I'm still robot-centric here in the Echo Chamber.
His name is Kirobo.
Or I'm presuming everyone is identifying him as male. Robots do not yet have true gender identity but give it time. Little Kirobo will be launched by the Japanese to the International Space Station. Once there, he will await Japanese astronaut, Koichi Wakata to arrive in the fall to engage in the first robot-to-human conversation in space.
Here's what Kirobo comes loaded with: a camera, voice-recognition and natural language technology that is supposed to be fluent in Japanese, facial recognition and (get this) emotion recognition ability.
They've even tested the little guy in zero-g. That must have been fun. Kirobo is not alone, however. An almost identical unit named Mirata will remain on the ground so that should, perish the thought, something go wrong with Kirobo, engineers will be able to formulate a solution.
As one representative of the team that created Kirobo says, the Soviets put the first person in space and now Japan will have the first robot. This might be interesting to watch unfold. If successful, a robot like Kirobo might help alleviate the psychological and emotional issues of a one person or small numbered crew for a space voyage.
In surfing the Net on this subject, I did come across one point that struck resonance with me. Something that has actually nagged at the back of my brain for a while now as we've seen models of robots unveiled in Japan.
Do they all look like Astro Boy on purpose?
If you're not a fan of anime or you just aren't acquainted with the character, here's an example:
The series has been around since 1952 in Japan. I've never really watched it, but it takes place in a future where robots are commonplace. Astro Boy is a multi-powered robot created by Doctor Tenma at the Ministry of Science to replace his deceased son.
Not ringing any bells? Like I said, I never watched it. I do, however, have vague recollections of this one:
Here's more video footage of Kirobo.
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