A Japanese humanoid communication robot being developed by the KIBO Robot project, a joint research project by Dentsu Inc., the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, the University of Tokyo (RCAST) and ROBO GARAGE Co., Ltd., is expected to be completed in February 2013. In the summer of the same year, it will be sent to the Japanese Experiment Module “Kibo” in the International Space Station (ISS).
The project aims to create a humanoid communication robot that will be a companion for the Japanese astronauts, who will be living and working in the Kibo Experiment Module. The 34 cm (13 inches) large robot will be used to communicate with the astronauts via autonomous actions and remote operations. The robot will also transmit information from the Kibo module to Earth.
In winter 2013, the robot will come face-to-face with Koichi Wakata, the first Japanese commander of the ISS, and will take part in the world’s first conversation experiment held between a person and a robot in outer space. A second robot with the same specifications will be built to serve as a backup and for demonstration purposes on Earth. Koichi Wakata, born 1 August 1963, is a Japanese engineer and a JAXA astronaut. He has completed four NASA Space Shuttle missions and a long-duration stay on the International Space Station. Wakata is currently assigned to the Soyuz TMA-11M/Expedition 38/Expedition 39 long duration spaceflight scheduled for 2013-2014. He will be the first Japanese commander of the Space Station during Expedition 39.