Japan robot chats with astronaut on space station
by Emily Wang, Associated Press
December 20, 2013 05:15 AM | 428 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In this June 26, 2013 file photo, humanoid robot Kirobo talks with Fuminori Kataoka, project general manager from Toyota Motor Corp., during a press unveiling in Tokyo. Kirobo, the first humanoid robot in space, performed its first mission at the International Space Station - holding a series of conversations with Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata and keeping him company, in footage released by its developer Friday, Dec. 20, 2013. The talks are part of an experiment testing the robot's autonomous conversation functions. Kirobo is programmed to process questions and select words from its vocabulary to construct an answer, instead of giving pre-programmed responses to specific questions. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi, File)
In this June 26, 2013 file photo, humanoid robot Kirobo talks with Fuminori Kataoka, project general manager from Toyota Motor Corp., during a press unveiling in Tokyo. Kirobo, the first humanoid robot in space, performed its first mission at the International Space Station - holding a series of conversations with Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata and keeping him company, in footage released by its developer Friday, Dec. 20, 2013. The talks are part of an experiment testing the robot's autonomous conversation functions. Kirobo is programmed to process questions and select words from its vocabulary to construct an answer, instead of giving pre-programmed responses to specific questions. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi, File)
slideshow
In this undated photo released by KIBO ROBOT PROJECT in Tokyo Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, the robot, named Kirobo, and Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata pose for a photo as they exchange small talks in Japanese at the International Space Station. The first humanoid robot in space performed its first mission at the space station - holding a series of conversations with Wakata and keeping him company. The talks are part of an experiment testing the robot's autonomous conversation functions. Kirobo is programmed to process questions and select words from its vocabulary to construct an answer, instead of giving pre-programmed responses to specific questions. (AP Photo/KIBO ROBOT PROJECT)
In this undated photo released by KIBO ROBOT PROJECT in Tokyo Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, the robot, named Kirobo, and Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata pose for a photo as they exchange small talks in Japanese at the International Space Station. The first humanoid robot in space performed its first mission at the space station - holding a series of conversations with Wakata and keeping him company. The talks are part of an experiment testing the robot's autonomous conversation functions. Kirobo is programmed to process questions and select words from its vocabulary to construct an answer, instead of giving pre-programmed responses to specific questions. (AP Photo/KIBO ROBOT PROJECT)
slideshow
TOKYO (AP) — The first humanoid robot in space made small talk with a Japanese astronaut and said it had no problem with zero gravity on the International Space Station.

Footage released by the robot's developers on Friday showed Kirobo performing its first mission on the station, talking in Japanese with astronaut Koichi Wakata to test its autonomous conversation functions.

Wakata says he's glad to meet Kirobo, and asks the robotic companion how it feels about being in a zero-gravity environment.

"I'm used to it now, no problem at all," Kirobo quips.

Kirobo is programmed to process questions and select words from its vocabulary to construct an answer, instead of giving pre-programmed responses to specific questions.

The creator of the robot, Tomotaka Takahashi, said the autonomous functions meant nobody knew how well Kirobo would be able to answer Wakata's questions.

Though Kirobo had some awkward pauses and Wakata spoke more slowly than usual at times in their chat earlier this month, Takahashi said conversations smoothed out over time.

"Through layers of communication, we were able to observe the initial stages of a relationship begin to develop between a human and a robot, and I think that was our biggest success" he said.

Kirobo took off from Japan's Tanegashima Space Center for the International Space Station this summer aboard a space cargo transporter. Wakata arrived in November and will assume command of the station in March.

The project is a joint endeavor between advertising company Dentsu, automaker Toyota, and Takahashi at the University of Tokyo's Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology.

Experiments with Kirobo will continue until it returns to Earth at the end of 2014.

In the meantime, Kirobo says he wants to ask Santa for a toy rocket this Christmas.



Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments
(0)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
No Comments Yet
*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, and spam will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides