In 1961 Yuri Gagarin became the first man to speak from space. Fifty-two years later, Toyota has helped give a voice to the first robot to talk while orbiting the earth
Toyota "robonaut" Kirobo's first words echoed Neil Armstrong's iconic moon-landing: "On August 21, 2013, a robot took one small step towards a brighter future for all."
Toyota provided Kirobo's voice recognition software and plans to use experience gained from the orbital experiments to improve the range of interactive conversation technologies it uses in its cars.
Kirobo, just 34cm tall, left earth on 4 August from Japan's Tanegashima Space Centre in the Kounotori 4 cargo vehicle, which docked at the International Space Station after six days in orbit.
Kirobo will be joined later this year by Koichi Wakata, who will become the first Japanese astronaut to take command of the orbiting space station, and will take part in the first conversation between a human and a robot in space, in the Japanese Experiment Module, nicknamed "Kibo" after the Japanese word for hope.
Kirobo and his earth-bound twin Mirata are two humanoid communication robots developed under the Kibo Robot Project, a joint research project between Toyota, Dentsu, Robo Garage, the University of Tokyo's Research Centre for Advanced Science and Technology and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.