Kirobo, a robot that has been sent to space in August this year, has carried out a mission that will sit well with curious onlookers and observers. Footage has been released that depicted the first humanoid robot ever in space actually carrying out a conversation with the commander of the International Space Centre, Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata. All right, perhaps conversation might be a wee bit too weighty in this case, but small talk would be better suited.
These conversations happen to be part of a series of experiments which intend to target the robot’s autonomous conversation functions. For instance, Kirobo will not simply voice out pre-programmed phrases as part of a response to specific questions, but rather, it has been programmed in such a way that it will process the question asked, before making a choice on the kind of words that it will use when replying in return. Needless to say, this process will involve some moments of awkward pauses (for the human), but it does not mean that the conversation will be an incoherent on. Captain Wakata shared that in one of the initial experiments, he extended his feelings of gladness for meeting up with Kirobo, asking how it felt being in a zero-gravity environment. Kirobo’s answer? “I’m used to it now, no problem at all.”