Some adorable robots from Japan will soon be making their debut in space. An anime-like machine will be launched into orbit where it will meet astronauts at the International Space Station (ISS). There, the astronauts will converse with the pint-sized robot.
Named Kirobo and Mirata, these robots were created as part of an initiative to see how humans and robots can interact in stressful situations. More specifically, researchers hope that these robots can actually reduce stress for people in a confined living space. While Kirobo will fly into space, though, Mirata will remain on the ground. There, it will analyze information relayed by Kirobo for further studies, according to The Wall Street Journal.
While the robots may look more like toys than sophisticated machines, these bots actually have an array of advanced capabilities. They possess voice and facial recognition in addition to the ability to communicate in Japanese, according to Discovery News. They can also move about freely and can work in zero gravity.
"Russia was the first to put a man in space. The United States was the first to go to the moon. Now we want to be the first to have verbal communication with robots in space," said Yoshichika Nishijima of Dentsu's business creation section in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.
So why put these robots in space at all? They actually have important ramifications for studies on Earth. The human-robot interaction in space will hopefully inspire people on Earth to see exactly how well a robot converse in difficult circumstances. This, in turn, could help encourage the use of therapeutic robots.
You can see Kirobo being put through its paces in the video below. Watch as it interacts with its creator, moves in zero gravity and performs other maneuvers for its upcoming visit to the ISS.