The epic adventures of Astro Boy
Toyota, a group of Japanese companies and some research institutions have created a real-world Astro Boy to go on an ultimate line-hauling space expedition to the International Space Station.
Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC), Dentsu, the Research Centre for Advanced Science and Technology, the University of Tokyo (RCAST) and Robo Garage will send their jointly developed robot astronaut, dubbed Kirobo, to space on August 4 – with the expedition departing from the Tanegashima Space Centre in the Kagoshima Prefecture.
The pint-size space explorer weighs one kilogram, is 34 cm high and can recognise emotion, nod and hold a conversation. It’s one of two humanoid verbal-communication robots developed under the Kibo Robot Project, a joint research project carried out by RCAST, Robo Garage and TMC – with Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency also providing extensive assistance.
Kirobo’s fellow robot, Mirata, will stay behind and monitor Kirobo – as, apart from the same verbal skills, Mirata can also accumulate knowledge.
The two humanoids follow in the footsteps of several Toyota robots created to study personal transport and human dexterity – with the predecessors being able to, among other things, play the trumpet and violin.