Japan is to send a talking robot into space to see how machines that communicate are able to work with humans. The robot has been developed by scientists from the Kirobo project - named after "kibo" or hope in Japanese - and is capable of holding a conversation with people. It's scheduled to be launch from Tanegashima Space Center on 4 August 2013.
The spacecraft it will be carried on will dock with the International Space Station (ISS) where it will stay until the arrival in November of Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata who will hold a conversation with the robot in space, the first experiment of its kind.
The mission is designed to test whether an autonomous robot can provide assistance to humans on space missions by communicating directly with them.
Yorichika Nishijima, manager in charge of the project to create the robots, said: "Russia was the first to go outer space; the US 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."
The project is a collaboration between the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, the University of Tokyo, Robo Garage, advertising and PR company Dentsu Inc. and Toyota Motor Corp.
During a demonstration, Fuminori Kataoka, project general manager from Toyota, asked Kirobo what its dream was. "I want to create a future where humans and robots can live together and get along," it answered.