At some level, we all knew that robots might play a big role in the future of space exploration, but using them to teach humans new and distinctly human pastimes may not have seemed so obvious. While NASA is looking at using autonomous artificial intelligence (AI) to delve deeper into remote regions of space, Japanese technologists are using slow-dancing robots to teach humans a move or two on the dance floor. 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) says the practical application of thinking robots could extend the exploratory range on missions. Even with the communications limitations in space — that worsen the farther you get from Earth — autonomous robots could continue exploring while waiting for further instruction.

Back on Earth, scientists at Tohoku University have taught a robot to teach humans how to dance. In addition to the general dance steps, the robot also evaluates its partners and tailors lessons to their perceived skill level.