Kirobo, a knee-high talking robot with red boots and a black and white body, arrived at the International Space Station Friday. It will help test how machines can help astronauts with their work and how they can provide companionship to astronauts on long space voyages.
The Japanese-speaking robot, equipped with voice- and facial-recognition technology, will now wait for its Japanese-speaking human companion, Koichi Wakata, who is set to join the station in November.
It's the first robot in space that can speak.
Standing 13 inches tall and weighing about 2.2 pounds, Kirobo is designed to navigate in zero gravity. Robonaut 2, which can't talk, went on board in October 2011. One of its tasks included testing the ventilation systems on the station, which requires a very steady hand.
Kirobo's name is a combination of "kibo," the Japanese word for "hope," and "robot."
Kirobo left Earth Sunday from the Tanegashima Space Center in southwestern Japan, packed into an unmanned cargo vessel along with tons of supplies and equipment for the crew of the orbital research base, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's website.
Now training for the trip in Russia, Wakata is slated to blast off with six other crew members in November.
In March 2014, Wakata will become the first Japanese astronaut to command the station.
At a recent demonstration, Kirobo said it "hoped to create a future where humans and robots live together and get along."
The International Space complex is a $100 billion project by 15 nations.
Kirobo -- jointly developed by the University of Tokyo, Toyota Motor Corp and Dentsu Inc -- will stay in space until late 2014.
Al Jazeera America and Reuters