Friday, June 22, 2018
News Roundup

Japan robot chats with astronaut on space station

The first humanoid robot in space chatted 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, speaking Japanese with astronaut Koichi Wakata as part of an experiment testing Kirobo's autonomous conversation functions.

Wakata said he was glad to meet Kirobo, and asked the robot how it felt about being in a zero-gravity environment.

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

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 this month, Takahashi said conversations smoothed out over time.

Experiments with Kirobo will continue until it returns to Earth at the end of 2014. The project is a joint endeavor between advertising company Dentsu, automaker Toyota and Takahashi at the University of Tokyo.

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