Having already launched a dog, monkeys, and humans into orbit, it would seem that the only thing left would be a humanoid communication robot. Well, maybe not the only thing left, but quite possibly the coolest thing.
Dentsu Inc, in cooperation with the University of Tokyo, ROBO GARAGE Co. Ltd, Toyota Motor Corporation, and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), has unveiled the launch of the Kibo Robot Project.
The Kibo Project, meaning ‘hope’ in Japanese, is working to develop a robot that can communicate with humans on a somewhat autonomous level. The robot, standing roughly 13 inches high and weighing little more than 2 pounds, will be able to live, work, and, most importantly, converse with the Japanese astronauts. Below is a sketch of the robot, for which you can even submit a name suggestion on the project’s site.
While the project is foremost meant to provide a companion to Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, designed to converse in Japanese and recognize Wakata’s face, the robot will also take photos and relay information back to Earth following its launch in the Summer of 2013.
Additionally, the Kibo Project hopes that this robot can solve other societal problems. With more people living alone and society becoming less communicative as technology and personal devices continue to proliferate, the Kibo Project aims for their robot to address this changing dynamic by providing a new robot-human type interface.
While this could be the future of communication, it will be interesting, and a little frightening, to see if this robot can truly represent a satisfactory replacement for human interaction.