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Robot astronaut wins two Guinness World Records titles


Washington:  A Japanese robot that acts as a friendly companion to astronauts onboard the International Space Station has set two Guinness World Records.

Kirobo, a small android able to have conversations in Japanese, has set records for First Companion Robot in Space and Highest altitude for a robot to have a conversation following an 18-month stay onboard the ISS.

Measuring 34 cm tall and weighing 1 kg, Kirobo can recognise faces, and has a sophisticated voice recognition system.

The robot astronaut was developed as part of a five-year, joint research project carried out in collaboration between advertising agency Dentsu, the University of Tokyo’s Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, Robo Garage, Toyota Motor Corporation, and JAXA the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

One of the project’s main aims was to test if a robot could provide psychological support to a human subject experiencing severe loneliness – such as an astronaut during an extended stay in space.

Kirobo left Earth on August 4, 2013, to serve as a companion robot to the astronaut, Koichi Wakata.

After arriving at the ISS on the 10th, Kirobo gave its first speech eleven days later, declaring: “On August 21, 2013, a robot took one small step toward a brighter future for all.”

The humanoid went on to achieve the highest altitude for a robot to have a conversation record on December 7, 2013, at an altitude of 414.2 kilometres above sea level after succeeding in having multiple meaningful conversations with Wakata.

On February 10 this year, Kirobo came safely back to Earth aboard SpaceX’s CRS-5 Dragon cargo supply spacecraft which splashed down in the Pacific Ocean off California, arriving back in Japan on March 12.

Kirobo’s first words after returning home were: “From up above, the Earth glowed like a blue LED.”

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