A Japanese Astronaut Says Goodbye to His Robot Space Companion

The BBC documents the kind, friendly farewell between astronaut Koichi Wakata and his best pal on the International Space Station, a robot named Kirobo who can “process questions and construct answers without resorting to pre-programmed responses.” A sample of their conversation:

“Kirobo, sorry we can’t go back to Earth together.”

“Don’t worry. I suppose there’s not enough space for me.”

“My only regret is that I’m leaving you alone here.”

“I’ll be all right. I’m a robot.”

I am so touched, which is so dumb! Kirobo was the first talking robot sent into space; he was programmed on earth to “remember Mr Wakata’s face so it can recognise him when they reunite up in space,” and is part of ongoing research on robots as emotional support for humans in isolated situations. I’ll listen to some Robyn in honor of his first strange, sad, cool friendship. [BBC]

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