Home > The first robot to speak in space lands back on earth

The first robot to speak in space lands back on earth

Supplier News
article image Toyota's robonaut Kirobo - first robot to speak in space

Kirobo, a robot from Toyota , recently returned to Earth after completing a historic 18-month mission on the International Space Station (ISS).

Also the first robot to speak in space, Toyota's Kirobo will now be examined by engineers in Japan to analyse the results of conversation experiments conducted on board the orbiting laboratory. Toyota's role in the project focused on Kirobo's voice and face recognition technologies, which were essential to the experiments.

The ‘robonaut’ came back on board a cargo supply craft that performed a parachute-assisted splashdown in the Pacific Ocean. Toyota plans to use the experience gained in space to improve the range of interactive conversation technologies in its automotive and personal robotic assistance products.

Measuring just 34cm tall and weighing about 1kg, Kirobo spent 558 days in space; partners in the project regard the robot’s space sojourn as an important first step in understanding how humans and robots might interact in space in the future. Kirobo's marathon mission began on August 4 2013 from the Tanegashima Space Centre in southern Japan.

Kirobo's mission was preceded by a series of 14 tests encompassing thermal, acoustic and electromagnetic analyses and zero-gravity simulations to ensure the android's inorganic nature would withstand the rigours of space.

In the very first month of the space mission, Kirobo made history as the first robot to speak in space, declaring: ‘On August 21 2013, a robot took one small step towards a brighter future for all’.

Four months later, Kirobo and astronaut Koichi Wakata, the first Japanese astronaut to assume command of the ISS, took part in the first conversation between a robot and a human in space. The conversation took place in the space station's Japanese Experiment Module. Commander Wakata's ISS expedition ended in May last year and Kirobo delivered a final message from space in August, thanking fans for their support.

Following this message, Kirobo was deactivated and readied for the return to Earth.
Partners in the project also included Tokyo-based communications firm Dentsu Inc, the University of Tokyo's Research Centre for Advanced Science and Technology (RCAST), Kyoto-based Robo Garage Co Ltd and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

RCAST and Robo Garage worked on Kirobo's hardware and body movement while Dentsu handled conversation content as well as overall project management.

Newsletter sign-up

The latest products and news delivered to your inbox