The International Space Station (ISS) is itself a technological marvel and paramount of human intelligence where astronauts from various space agencies frequent it to conduct countless experiments and operate the ISS. Adding to it, Airbus has developed a ‘floating brain’ AI assistant after teaming up with IBM, CIMON or Crew Interactive Mobile Companion is an 11 pounds or 5 kg robot that will be sent to the ISS in June 2018 and will accompany the astronauts in mundane and diagnostic tasks.
Airbus developed the robot made up of 3D-printed plastic and metal that runs a modified version of IBM’s Watson AI. To conduct preflight training, the orb is being tested by astronaut Alexander Gerst who will be flying to the ISS in June 2018 on ESA’s Horizons mission along with the orb to carry out further tests. According to the statement released by its developer, the floating brain-like robot will display procedures, tips, and other important details regarding any mission. It will keep track of all the progress made and will adapt itself to show further results. CIMON is also equipped with a massive screen that will showcase details and it will be able to interact with the astronauts. The robot has a synthetic voice and appearance similar to Rethink Robotics’ Baxter AI. It also recognizes speech and responds accordingly.
Airbus further said that CIMON will provide a checklist and other details when asked. It will also interact with the astronauts playing interactive exercises like solving Rubik’s cube and other tasks. It will diagnose the certain systems on ISS and warn the astronauts of any technical problem that may come about. Most importantly, CIMON might be able to resolve the much greater problem for astronauts in the space i.e. psychological impact that isolation of space puts on the astronauts. Space agencies around the globe are trying to resolve psychological impact which could hinder with astronauts performance especially when the stay on ISS is of significant duration. CIMON will be able to act as a companion to the astronauts thereby helping them cope up with psychological stress.
The floating brain-like orb CIMON is been developed since 2016. A team consisting of 50 technicians have been working to prepare it for its space journey. The AI assistant is learning about the International Space Station. The team is also looking forward for enhancing its ability to move freely in the microgravity environment of the space as well as its ability to orient itself properly. Astronaut Alexander Gerst will be able to interact with the AI robot during its mission where they both will spend around three hours to conduct tests and evaluate the performance of the robot which is presently learning to recognized Gerst using his voice samples and photos.