ISS receives assistance from Watson with a robot crew member

Jul

1

2018

The international space station ISS gets a crew member. CIMON, the Crew Interactive Mobile Companion, is a floating robot with IBM’s Watson-ai that should make the daily tasks of the astronauts on board easier.

The project is the result of a collaboration between IBM, which designed the computer and the ‘body’, Airbus, which made the drive, and the German Space Center. The 5 kilo robot is spherical, with a flat front on which the face of Cimon can be seen on a display. An example of a task for Cimon is to show repair instructions on voice command, in order to ensure that the astronaut who performs it has his hands free at all times. Furthermore Cimon has a camera on board for face recognition. He moves around by sucking air in on one side and blowing it out again on the other side.

The presence of Cimon is seen by NASA as an investigation into the efficiency and acceptability of an artificial intelligence as an additional crew member on long missions. For the time being Cimon has been tuned to specifically listen to the commands of crew member Alexander Gerst, who will carry out three different investigations with the robot.

On Friday, Cimon, together with more than 2.5 tonnes of other stocks, was sent into space by SpaceX, NASA’s commercial supplier. A well-known Falcon 9 rocket was used for this. On 2 July, Cimon and the rest of the freight must arrive at the station.

Cimon
Image: ESA

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