Don't Be Jealous HAL: Dentsu Robot Chats In Space

Chalk up another first for Kirobo, Dentsu and Toyota’s experimental space-exploring robot.

The Tokyo-based advertising company has proclaimed that the robot—part of a joint research project being carried out by Dentsu, the University of Tokyo’s Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, Robo Garage Co., and Toyota Motor Co.—carried on a “first of its kind” conversation between a robot and a human being in outer space. Voice recognition technology enabled the conversation to take place.

Earlier this year Kirobo flew to the International Space station. The precedent-setting conversation, which Dentsu confirmed earlier this week, took place between Kirobo and astronaut Koichi Wakata. “Well, I’m a robot,” Kirobo quipped after Wakata stated that it was incredible that Kirobo flew to the space station all by itself.

Further conversations will be held, and conversation logs and other data will be gathered and utilized by the project participants. The key aims of the project, Dentsu said, are to “facilitate the coexistence of people and robots, and to explore possible future deployment of communication robots in outer space.“



The robot project was announced in 2012 and Kirobo was put into space in August of this year.  The robot does seem to have captured the public’s imagination, if Google’s Zeitgeist 2013 report is any indication. Kirobo made an appearance in the company’s video compilation of the year’s top searches. 

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