Kirobo — a humanoid "robot astronaut" that can converse with humans in space and on the ground — is scheduled for launch to the International Space Station on Aug. 4.
Once aboard the orbiting laboratory, Kirobo will take part in the first robot-to-human conversation in space, Kibo Robot Project officials have said.
"Russia was the first to go outer space, the U.S. was the first to go to the moon, we want Japan to be the first to send a robot-astronaut to space that can communicate with humans," said Yorichika Nishijima, the Kirobo project manager, according to The Associated Press.
Kirobo's name comes from a combination of the Japanese word for hope, "kibo," and the word "robot." Officials from the project chose the name from the more than 2,452 entries submitted by interested fans of the project. The Japanese module of the space station — called the Kibo laboratory — is also named for "hope." [Read More...]