Japan Plans to Send Humanoid Robot to Space

Astronauts at the International Space Station may soon have a talking and tweeting humanoid robot for a companion, nurse, and public relations officer rolled into one.

Japan’s space agency, the JAXA, said this week that there is a plan to send a talking humanoid robot to the ISS, where the android would be tasked to monitor the astronauts’ health and stress levels, watch them as they sleep, and then use Twitter to relay messages back to Earth. However, while the US is ready to launch its own robot program, “Robonaut,” into space by next week aboard the Discovery shuttle, the JAXA said its Twitter-savvy humanoid might not be ready until 2013.

According to the JAXA, the robot project is part of a bigger plan to produce humanoids that are capable of providing help to Japan’s elderly population. “We are thinking in terms of a very human-like robot that would have facial expressions and be able to converse with the astronauts,” a JAXA official, Satoshi Sano, said.