Mankind sees its future as one day living among the stars (And I don’t mean rubbing shoulders with Kim and Kanye). No, what I’m talking about is venturing further and further into the endless void known as outer space. But let’s face it, we’re a long way from leaving planet Earth to live on outer space colonies and giant interplanetary vessels. For the few men and women who do get a chance to venture out into space, they’re usually stuck orbiting the planet in a cramped metal can, for months, just running tests and collecting data. Take the International Space Station (ISS), for example. Its crew is generally rotated every six months and there are normally only six people up there at a time. And they’re all focused on work. Being an astronaut is possibly the coolest job there is, but still, it’s hard to imagine that they don’t get lonely and bored, sometimes.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure they enjoy each other’s company well enough. But how would you feel having no one to have a face to face conversation with for six months, besides your coworkers? Actually, I think I had a nightmare about that once. This is where Japan comes in, because, obviously, Japan’s got a solution to every problem. They’re set to send their cute robotic companion up into space to alleviate this problem. Introducing Kirobo.
Kirobo is the newest Japanese innovation geared towards assisting astronauts in space with one of man’s most essential needs: companionship. This little guy’s primary purpose is to be a friendly conversationalist as astronauts go about their daily routines.
Of course, I myself have a slightly different image in mind when I think “cute Japanese robot companion”.
But then again, I’ve been told I’m something of a pervert, so you can’t trust my opinion on these matters. The Kirobo idea works too, I guess.
Kirobo is a product of the combined efforts of Dentsu, Toyota and the University of Tokyo. Described an “artificial person”, this 13 inch little guy is capable of recognizing human facial expressions and body language (So you better work on your poker face if you don’t want him to figure out what you’re up to). He’s scheduled to join the crew on the ISS on August 4th to test just how well he holds up his end of the conversation in space.
Even though he’s not artificially intelligent himself, Kirobo is the embodiment of a dream. A dream that, one day man will be able to create robotic life forms to accompany our pioneers into that long, cold distant journey into the final frontier. Proof of that dream can be seen in many of the stories we have created over the years about man’s voyage into space.
Okay… Maybe not the best examples, but Kirobo is different. It’s even in his name. The first half of it is derived from the Japanese word, kibo, which stands for hope and the second half, robo, which means… well… robo. This “hope robot” has a dream too. Kirobo has already told its programmers that it wants “a future where humans and robots live together and get along”.
D’AWWW!!! Isn’t that just precious? And look at how tiny he is. He so cute! Plus, he’s got a great sense of balance.
The little guy can easily get around and fit into small spaces. I bet if he wanted to, he could hide anywhere and you’d never find him… Or even know what he’s up to half the time…
Or see him coming…
By the way, did I mention he’s great with kids?
They totally love him! Kirobo’s so cute and tiny, children instantly let down any defenses that they would have and rush to play with him. Which, in itself, is great since the Japanese government is also looking to employ robotic caregivers for their ever increasing elderly population. Gotta start early in building that trust in machines running-I mean-assisting us in our daily lives. Right?