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Toyota today released new video of a 13.4 inch talking robot named Kirobo. The "verbal-communications" robot is slated for an interstellar trip to the International Space Station in early August.

Kirobo was developed under a joint research initiative between the University of Tokyo's Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, Robo Garage Co., Japanese advertising firm Dentsu and Toyota Motor Company. The University of Tokyo and Robo Garage were responsible for the hardware, while Toyota provided software for Kirobo's voice-recognition function.

Kirobo robot

According to project organizers, Kirobo will "take part in the first conversation experiment held between a person and a robot in space," when the tiny bot engages Commander Koichi Wakata in some small talk aboard the ISS.

"Toyota chose to participate in the Kibo Robot Project because we are trying to help create a society where humans and robots can co-exist," said Fuminori Kataoka, project general manager in the product planning group at Toyota. "We hope to eventually use what we learn from this project to improve our Partner Robots and interactive conversation services."
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June 26, 2013
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Dentsu Inc. (Dentsu), Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, the University of Tokyo (RCAST); Robo Garage Co., Ltd. (Robo Garage) and Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) announce today that their jointly developed robot astronaut called Kirobo will be aboard the Kounotori 4 cargo spacecraft scheduled for launch from the Tanegashima Space Center to the International Space Station (ISS) on August 4.

Kirobo is one of two humanoid verbal-communication robots developed under the Kibo Robot Project, a joint research project carried out by RCAST, Robo Garage and TMC. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has also provided extensive assistance.

RCAST and Robo Garage worked on the development of the robot hardware and motion generation, TMC was responsible for the voice-recognition function, and Dentsu handled the creation of the conversation content as well as the management of the entire project.

After launch aboard Kounotori 4 within H-IIB Launch Vehicle No. 4 on August 4, Kirobo will disembark at the ISS and wait for the arrival of Commander Koichi Wakata in November or December. In the Kibo Japanese experiment module, the commander and Kirobo will then take part in the first conversation experiment held between a person and a robot in space.

Kibo Robot Website:

Project Timeline (planned)
Aug. 4, 2013: Robot astronaut Kirobo leaves for the ISS
Aug.–Sep. 2013: Kirobo speaks for the first time in space
Nov.–Dec. 2013: Commander Wakata arrives at the ISS
Dec. 2013: Commander Wakata and Kirobo have their first conversation
May–Jun. 2014: Commander Wakata leaves the ISS
Dec. 2014: Kirobo returns to Earth
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