Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Japanese "HAL" to Tweet from Space

Japan to Send Talking, Tweeting Robot Into Space
Japan's space agency is looking into the possibility of sending a Twitter-using humanoid robot to the International Space Station to act as a talking companion for astronauts on the orbiting outpost, according to news reports.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) announced this week that it is considering a plan to equip the space station with a humanoid robot in 2013 to keep watch over the outpost while astronauts sleep, according to the Associated Press and AFP wire services. The robot could also monitor the crewmembers' health and stress levels.

The robot would also be able to "talk" by communicating with people on Earth and sharing photos through Twitter, according to the AP.

"We are thinking in terms of a very human-like robot that would have facial expressions and be able to converse with the astronauts," said JAXA engineer Satoshi Sano, according to the AP.

Development of the robot is being spearheaded by JAXA, advertising and communications giant Dentsu Inc. and a team at Tokyo University. [...]

Well, I suppose a talking computer in space that Tweets is better than one that murders astronauts while they sleep. If you read the whole article though, it sounds like they are thinking of maybe merging this talking robot with Robonaut 2. So, would such a hybrid be like "HAL", only with hands? "Handy HAL, the handyman". Butler, companion, and potential axe-murderer all in one.

Hopefully scary thoughts of a HAL with hands will remain a thing of cinematic fiction. In reality, it looks like there's going to be a real future for robots in space:

NASA Plans New Robot Generation to Explore Moon, Asteroids

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