A task force reporting to the Japanese Prime Minister has established a goal of landing a two-legged robot on the moon around 2020, according to press accounts. The report itself doesn't appear to be online yet, at least not in English. And such grand plans rarely unfold according to timetables set by government committees.
But Japan has an ongoing, serious interest in building humanoid robots for all kinds of applications, and the idea of a robo-astronaut isn't new or outlandish. So which one will be the first to walk on the moon? Perhaps the HRP-4C fashion robot, recently unveiled by Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology. Or maybe Honda's Asimo, which (who?) can run at 4 mph, climb stairs, and kick a soccer ball, among other skills. Plus, he already has a backpack.
Ah, but can he moonwalk and sing at the same time?