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Japanese robots Kirobo and Mirata set for launch, literally

Steve Dent, @stevetdent
June 26, 2013
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Don't get excited about buying the new robots created by Japanese company Dentsu in conjunction with Toyota and the University of Tokyo -- they won't be hitting stores anytime soon. However, do get excited that one of them, namely the white-helmeted droid Kirobo (shown above, left), will actually be launched into orbit as part of a Japan Space Agency mission to the ISS on August 4th. In fact, he and his backup Mirata were endowed with voice recognition, natural language processing, speech synthesis, realistic body language and facial recognition for that very reason. They'll be participating in the "world's first conversational experiment" between people and robots in space, while also mixing it up with kids on earth with educational activities. Hopefully, the astronauts won't give Kirobo any HAL 9000-like control of the station, though the cute 'bots seem malice-free, saying they "wanted to create a future where humans and robots live together and get along." Check it out for yourself in the video after the break.

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