After they arrive, one of the little robots is expected to talk with Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, according to the project's video. Do yourself a favor and watch that video. It's fantastic. Kirobo can actually say "I am a robotic astronaut" in Japanese and appears to respond when the roboticists talk to him.
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Besides being a great premise for an animated family movie, the Kibo Robot Project has noble goals. One is to truly put human-robot interactions to the test. Another is to inspire humans back on Earth by showing how well a robot can converse in difficult circumstances. After all, some people out there remain unconvinced about the effectiveness of therapeutic robots.
The two space-bound robots are shouldering big responsibilities. Near the end of the descriptive video, one of the project team members leans over Kirobo and says, "I'm counting on you!" Yeah little dude, we're all counting on you. Try not to lose your lunch up there.
Photos: Kirobo goes on a parabolic test flight and is expected to be looking out on Earth from space this summer. Credit: Kibo Robot Project.