CIMON: AI Based Flying Brain will Assist Astronauts in Space Station (ISS)

Cristina Cross
July 4, 2018

SpaceX's first Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket rolls to its launch pad at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida in May, 2018.

Updated on July 3: The Dragon capsule carrying CIMON has been received by astronauts at ISS.

CIMON also parallels HAL, the sentient computer in Stanley Kubrick's movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

CIMON will be working with Alexander Gerst, a German astronaut.

"In short, CIMON will be the first AI-based mission and flight assistance system", said Manfred Jaumann, Head of Microgravity Payloads from Airbus.

It was trained using voice samples and photos of Gerst, and procedures and plans of the Columbus module of the International Space Station were loaded into its database.

An artificial intelligence robot dubbed Crew Interactive Mobile Companion (or CIMON for short) is now en route to the ISS onboard a NASA-contracted SpaceX Dragon spacecraft.

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The Dragon ship is slated to reach the ISS on Monday and is mostly filled with science experiments, food, water, and other supplies.

All six crew members at the orbiting outpost can speak to CIMON, though it has been taught to work best with Gerst.

That's because IBM is sending an AI robot to assist the ISS crew in their scientific endeavors and also to keep them company, reports FOX News.

When Gerst calls to CIMON, the floating robot will acoustically sense where Gerst is calling from, orient itself that way, and zoom over. Gerst will initially work with his new AI colleague on three tasks: experimenting with crystals, solving a Rubik's cube, and conducting a "complex medical experiment using CIMON as an "intelligent" flying camera", Airbus said.

"What were trying to do with CIMON is to increase the efficiency of the astronaut", said Matthias Biniok, an engineer for chip maker IBM and one of the lead architects behind CIMON's artificial intelligence. "The crew's going to be opening up and eating blueberries, drinking coffee and eating ice cream, I'm sure, before you know it". It is scheduled to return to Earth on December 13, according to the BBC.

In addition to helping with experiments, CIMON is equipped with sensors that can alert astronauts to unsafe conditions when they're not near a computer console.

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