The “black-and-white humanoid robot outfitted with bright red boots,” as The Telegraph describes him, and “large oval eyes and a small red mouth,” adds CBS News. Kirobo, as the robot has been named, will be flying into space alongside Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata to the International Space Station (ISS). Though he speaks, the robot only does so in Japanese.
"This may look a small step, but it will be a big stride as a robot," Kirobo explains at a press conference in Tokyo. This robot is much different than the type we’d expect to be involved in interspace travel.
"When people think of robots in outer space, they tend to seek ones that do things physically," notes Kirobo creator Tomotaka Takahashi. "But I think there is something that could come from focusing on humanoid robots that focus on communication." Because of his specializations, Kirobo doesn’t need to be equipped for heavy duty tasks. He stands at approximately 34cm tall (13ins), and weighs about 1kg (2.2lbs).
Wakata is also the first Japanese man to command an ISS mission.
Kirobo is supposed to be sent into space on August 4, 2014, launching from Tanegashima Space Center.
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.