Screenshot taken from YouTube Video

Talking Robot is Equipped with Biometric Capabilities

Screenshot taken from YouTube Video
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"Talking Robot is Equipped with Biometric Capabilities"
Caption: Screenshot taken from YouTube Video
Image by: Kibo Robot Project
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As journeys into space continue with more capabilities in the 21st Century, not only humans are flying into the celestial frontiers, now robots, designed as "human-like" are becoming space travelers as well.

In a new project, a robot with biometric recognition capabilities has literally been launched into space to serve as an "astronaut". Last week Japan's  Tanegashima Space Center sent its robot, named "Kirobo" off to the International Space Station.

Designed and built through a collaboration of groups, collectively named the Kibo Robot Project, the team has made a new milestone with this initiative.

After making the long trek through space on an HTV-4 freighter, Kirobo landed safely at the International Space Station without any incidents, according to RIA Novosti. It also brought equipment and supplies to bring on board the space station as well.

“One small step for me, a giant leap for robots," Kirobo said at a press conference prior to the launch.

The tiny robot is now set to begin work transferring messages between the International Space Station and the scientists monitoring it back on Earth.

Kirobo will primarily communicate with Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, who will collect and analyze data sent by the robot. Wakata will be making his own trek to the International Space Station this coming November and will become its first commander from Japan.

In early August, the talking robot, which weighs just a couple of pounds and stands at just over a foot tall, was unveiled to the world by Japanese scientists. The robot wears sleek-looking attire, black and white "suit" with bright red boots.

When Wakata arrives as the space station, the mechanical astronaut will be able to recognize his human counterpart by face and greet him by name thanks to great strides that have been made in the field of biometrics. Kirobo, who's design was inspired by the legendary cartoon "Astro Boy", has both voice and facial recognition capabilities. The duo will become companions and be able to communicate.

Part of Kirobo's mission is to keep his human counterparts company, as ComputerWorld notes. The experiment is being conducted in space, which seems to be a perfect starting point. And if successful, chances are the robot will find its way into being used in other ways.

"The Kibo robot has a special mission: To help solve the problems brought about by a society that has become more individualized and less communicative...With a new style of robot-human interface, perhaps a way to solve this problem could be found," said a statement on the Kibo Robot Project website (courtesy of RT).

Kirobo also has a counterpart. Remaining on Earth is Mirata, who is described as a "back up crew member". The two seemingly identical-looking robots will also be communicating during this mission.

Media reports indicate Kirobo is currently scheduled to remain on its voyage through the end of this year and next. At this time there does not seem to be any discussion of Mirata also making a space trek.

However, at some point in the future, the duo may find they have more "relatives" and become a part of everyday households.

More about this author: Leigh Goessl

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