Originally published on Sun August 4, 2013 11:16 am
HAL 9000 he's not. But Kirobo, the first-ever talking robot in space is heading to the International Space Station this week ahead of his human companion, Japanese astronaut Kochi Wakata, who takes over as ISS commander in November.
The robot, whose outward appearance was inspired by the cartoon character Astro Boy, stands just over a foot tall and it was "built to converse with astronauts on long space voyages," according to Space.com.
Kirobo – whose name is a portmanteau of the Japanese word for "hope" plus "robot" – can communicate in Japanese, keep a record of its conversations with Commander Wakata and is expected to relay messages between the ground and the station.