• Gets award for being “The first companion robot in space”
• Recognised by Guinness for “The highest altitude for a robot to have a conversation”
Two Guinness World Records titles have been awarded to Kirobo, the robot astronaut developed as part of a joint research project between Dentsu Inc., the University of Tokyo’s Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, Robo Garage Co., Ltd., Toyota Motor Corporation, and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Erika Ogawa, Vice President Japan, Guinness World Records Ltd, recently presented Kirobo with two Guinness World Records certificates for the following achievements:
• The first companion robot in space, which arrived at the International Space Station on 9 August 2013.
• The highest altitude for a robot to have a conversation at 414.2 km above mean sea level achieved on the International Space Station on 7 December 2013.
According to Takayuki Yoshitsugu, Chief Representative, Middle East and North Africa Representative Office, TOYOTA Motor Corporation, “The recognition by Guinness World Records is a wonderful acknowledgement of the achievements by Kirobo and a dedicated multi-disciplinary team who have pushed the boundaries of science and technology to understand how humans and robots might interact in space in the future. The long-term aim of the Kirobo Robot Project is for robots to provide companionship to those who need them most and Kirobo represents the first step towards this vision of the future.”
Kirobo arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) on August 10, 2013 and spent a total of eighteen months there, holding the world’s first conversation experiment in outer space between a robot and a human (JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata) and conducting research for a future in which humans and robots coexist.
On 10 February 2015, Kirobo came safely back to Earth aboard SpaceX’s CRS-5 Dragon cargo supply spacecraft which splashed down in the Pacific Ocean off California, and then arrived back in Japan on March 12. Kirobo’s first words after returning home were: “From up above, the Earth glowed like a blue LED.”
At the debriefing session held at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Tokyo, the project members gave a summary report and showed a video of the highlights of Kirobo’s activities aboard the ISS. The session was chaired by Fuminori Kataoka, project general manager in the Product
Planning Group of Toyota Motor Corporation, and the two speakers were Tomotaka Takahashi, the president of ROBO GARAGE Co., Ltd. who is also a visiting research fellow at the University of Tokyo’s Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, and Yorichika Nishijima, a copywriter in Dentsu Inc.’s Business Creation Center as well as head of the Dentsu Robot Center. Kirobo also appeared on stage to chat with the project team members.
Toyota’s role in the Kirobo project has been to engineer voice and facial recognition technologies. Like every process within the company, Kirobo’s development has been conducted under the Japanese practice of Kaizen, or continuous improvement.