Toyota’s 13-inch-tall Kirobo communications robot will travel to the International Space Station in August. There, it will use voice recognition and natural language processing to engage in conversations with astronaut Koichi Wakata. (Source: Toyota)
It is great that they have moved from the idea of simple conversations towards more humanly conversations by including emotions in it and removing the element of typical robotic conversation. And also it is nice to see astrounauts being acompanied by robots that would be sympathetic towards them, it will be good for them to have something to have fun with in such a lonely environment.
It may seem far-fetched but I think it would make a great plot for a Sci-Fi movie. Imagine a 13-inch high robotic mix of Hannibal Lecter (minus the cannibalism, of course) and HAL wreaking havoc in space, hacking the Earth's internet, then taking over the NSA's equivalent of Skynet (shades of Terminator). But all is not lost - Earth's salvation is a group of engineers armed with the only computational tool left on the planet not under the control of the 13-inch menace - a slide rule. But who can teach them how to unlock its power? The quest begins to seek out the curmudgeonly retired Yoda-like engineer named...... You get the idea.
Yes, I think you've homed in on the other big part of the story, taimoortariq. Being on the ISS for months can be a pretty lonely task. I would imagine astronauts will be happy to have the company, even if it is the company of a robot.
Charles, I do see some potential behind the robot for space travelers as an entertainment element and companion while being a million miles away from people. The vision of robots and humans co-existing is truly in its infancy stage but its going to take society to have an open mind to accept this concept. Sci-fi movies protraying robots dominating society will continued to be in the front matter of the majority of people thus resisting acceptance to these machines as being equal partners and companions. Baxter, Marilyn Monrobot, and other societal robots are the ambassadors to break down this wall of fear and resistance of man co-existing with intelligent machines. Great article and video Charles!
Design engineers need to prepare for a future in which their electronic products will use not just one or two, but possibly many user interfaces that involve touch, vision, gestures, and even eye movements.
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