Space

Kibo space robot revealed, undergoes zero G testing

Kibo the Japanese communication robot floats in zero gravity aboard an airplane with its creator, Tomotaka Takahashi (left background)
Kibo the Japanese communication robot floats in zero gravity aboard an airplane with its creator, Tomotaka Takahashi (left background)
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Kibo looks at the Earth from aboard the International Space Station in this promotional image
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Kibo looks at the Earth from aboard the International Space Station in this promotional image
Kibo is tested in a mock-up of the International Space Station
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Kibo is tested in a mock-up of the International Space Station
Children learn about Kibo's trip into space
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Children learn about Kibo's trip into space
Kibo, a Japanese communication robot that will be sent to the International Space Station, lies on a table after being assembled
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Kibo, a Japanese communication robot that will be sent to the International Space Station, lies on a table after being assembled
Kibo's eyes light up as it is turned on for the first time
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Kibo's eyes light up as it is turned on for the first time
Robot creator Tomotaka Takahashi (ROBO-GARAGE, Tokyo University RCAST) designed and built Kibo
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Robot creator Tomotaka Takahashi (ROBO-GARAGE, Tokyo University RCAST) designed and built Kibo
Tomotaka Takahashi's design sketch for Kibo, a communication robot destined for the International Space Station
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Tomotaka Takahashi's design sketch for Kibo, a communication robot destined for the International Space Station
Kibo undergoes testing before its trip into space
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Kibo undergoes testing before its trip into space
Kibo's speech recognition software allows it to respond to human voices
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Kibo's speech recognition software allows it to respond to human voices
Kibo can speak using speech synthesis
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Kibo can speak using speech synthesis
Children met with Kibo, a communication robot headed for the International Space Station later this year
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Children met with Kibo, a communication robot headed for the International Space Station later this year
Kibo is a bipedal robot that can walk and balance on one foot
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Kibo is a bipedal robot that can walk and balance on one foot
Children mimic the actions of the humanoid robot Kibo
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Children mimic the actions of the humanoid robot Kibo
Kibo is programmed to respond to Japanese speech
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Kibo is programmed to respond to Japanese speech
Kibo's cute appearance and voice delight an elderly woman
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Kibo's cute appearance and voice delight an elderly woman
Children are drawn to Kibo's cute antics
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Children are drawn to Kibo's cute antics
Kibo stands proudly
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Kibo stands proudly
Kibo, a humanoid communication robot, will take up residence inside an experimental module of the same name attached to the ISS
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Kibo, a humanoid communication robot, will take up residence inside an experimental module of the same name attached to the ISS
Kibo, a communication robot destined for space, underwent some fun zero gravity tests
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Kibo, a communication robot destined for space, underwent some fun zero gravity tests
Kibo the Japanese communication robot floats in zero gravity aboard an airplane with its creator, Tomotaka Takahashi (left background)
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Kibo the Japanese communication robot floats in zero gravity aboard an airplane with its creator, Tomotaka Takahashi (left background)
Kibo shakes hands with one of Toyota's designers in zero gravity
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Kibo shakes hands with one of Toyota's designers in zero gravity
A close-up of Kibo's upper-body
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A close-up of Kibo's upper-body
Kibo poses with its creator, Tomotaka Takahashi (front left)
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Kibo poses with its creator, Tomotaka Takahashi (front left)
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The Japanese communication robot destined to join the crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS) this summer recently underwent some zero gravity testing. The Kibo Robot Project, organized by Dentsu Inc. in response to a proposal made by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, unveiled the final design of its diminutive humanoid robot and its Earthbound counterpart. Watch the cutest robot-related video of the year after the break.

As we reported earlier, the robot is based on a commercially-available kit called Robi that stands 13.4 inches (34 cm) tall and weighs 2.2 pounds (1 kg). Toyota contributed natural language processing technology, allowing the Kibo robot to understand Japanese speech. It responds using a synthesized voice, and is equipped with a camera that can perform face recognition. Its primary duty will be to entertain Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, who will receive encouraging tweets from Earth through the robot.

It was designed by famed robot creator Tomotaka Takahashi (ROBO-GARAGE, Tokyo University RCAST), who previously built a Guinness World Record-setting robot mascot for Panasonic's EVOLTA line of batteries. The EVOLTA robot climbed a rope to the top of the Grand Canyon, scooted around the Le Mans race course, and completed an Iron Man triathlon. This (Northern Hemisphere) summer his latest creation will take up residence inside the experimental module of the ISS.

More than 2,462 names were submitted to the project's website, and "Kirobo" and "Mirata" were the winners. While Kirobo will be sent into space, a duplicate called Mirata will stay on Earth to perform a variety of public relations missions such as teaching schoolchildren about Japan's involvement with the ISS program.

You can watch the robot undergo zero gravity testing aboard a plane (as it performs the dreaded "Vomit Comet" maneuver) in the following video. A promotional video dramatizing the robot's creation and showing it's interactive capabilities follows after that.

Source: Kibo Robot Project via My Navi News (Japanese)

Zero G test day:

ロボット宇宙飛行士になるための12の試練 その1:無重力試験

Promotional video:

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