Talking robot calls home from space station
Japanese-built Kirobo to partake in experiments while in orbit
A Japanese robot orbiting 370 kilometres above the Earth called home for the first time.
In video released today but filmed two weeks ago, Kirobo, Japan's first robot astronaut, spoke from the International Space Station.
"Robots take their first step towards a shining future," the one-kilogram, 34-centimetre-high automaton said as it floated around the ISS.
The researchers behind Kirobo — a compound word made from the words Kibo, or "hope" in Japanese, and robot — said this is the first time a robot has spoken from space.
Packaged into an insulated box, Kirobo was deployed to the space station aboard a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency cargo transfer vehicle mounted on an H-IIB rocket on Aug. 4.
Kirobo arrived at the space station six days later, and will stay there for about a year and a half, the aerospace agency said.
The robot is set to conduct experiments in space by taking verbal orders from astronaut commander Koichi Wakata and by remote-control from earth.
Wakata will also arrive at the space station toward the end of the year to directly communicate with the robot.
The other astronauts will not be able to interact with the visiting robot unless they speak Japanese, Kirobo's native tongue.
Kirobo was developed by Tokyo University, Toyota Motor Corporation, advertising agency Dentsu and Robo Garage. It is scheduled to return to earth in December 2014.