This 2015 promotional video (updated to replace a missing February 2013 video) for the Kibo Robot Project really builds the excitement for having a 13.4 inch tall robot astronaut in space… just in case that didn’t already sound exciting.
On August 9, 2013, an Astro Boy-inspired, talking robot named Kirobo — a mix of Kibo, “hope” in Japanese, and robot — will arrive at the International Space Station on a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) supply ship.
Kirobo will work directly with JAXA engineer, astronaut, and human Koichi Wakata, who will take command of the ISS in November. The robot’s presence will also explore “how machines can lend emotional support to people isolated over long periods.” Among other functions, it is built with voice-, face-, and emotion- recognition technologies.
From PC Mag:
Of course, it’s not as easy as it sounds for a robot to become an astronaut. Researchers had to subject Kirobo to a number of different tests to determine whether the robot would be suitable for its weightless mission, including thermal analysis testing, electromagnetic compatibility testing, and a test to determine whether the general background noise on board the Internal Space Station might otherwise interfere with the robot’s voice-recognition capabilities.
“Snagging two Guinness World Records, Robot Astronaut Kirobo traveled to the International Space Station where he was not only the first companion robot in space but also held the highest altitude conversations up there before coming back down to Earth to describe the blue planet in his own unique terms. The Japanese Commander of the ISS held many a companionable conversation with Kirobo during their time together and the two promised to keep in touch back on Earth.”