Robot Wants Toy Rocket for Christmas

Did you get that fancy new PS4 or Xbox One you had on your Christmas wish list this year? All around the world, people are celebrating Christmas, opening presents, and having a good time. 220 miles above them, aboard the International Space Station, it seems that a little robot might also be getting what it wished for.

When asked what it wanted for Christmas, the world’s first robotic astronaut, Kirobo said, “Santa Claus will come to space. I want a toy rocket… let’s ask Santa Claus.”¬† Kirobo, accompanying Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, is part of a Japanese experiment to increase man to machine communication. Without any pre-programmed responses, ¬†Kirobo processes the questions and then chooses words from its vocabulary to form proper answers.

The creators of Kirobo, a combination of engineers from the University of Tokyo, Robo Garage, Toyota, and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), want to know if a robot with conversational skills can be a viable option for human companionship. They also want to learn how well humans and robots can interact, and hope that more robots like Kirobo can play more active roles in keeping astronauts company on their missions.

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