Astronauts aboard the International Space Station are about to get an AI personal assistant.
Known as CIMON (Crew Interactive MObile CompanioN) the bot, developed by Airbus, will use IBM’s Watson AI technology to help astronauts.
Researchers hope that with its face, voice and artificial intelligence, it will become a genuine ‘colleague’ on board, helping astronauts with their daily routines, and warning of any impending problems – much like the HAL robot in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 was designed to do.
Much of the work on board the station involves astronauts following checklists and instructions sent up by operators on Earth.
Alexander Gerst will test the technology demonstrator aboard the ISS when the bot blasts off aboard a SpaceX capsule tomorrow morning.
The technology demonstrator, which is the size of a medicine ball and weighs around 5 kg, is made entirely using 3D printing.
‘In short, CIMON will be the first AI-based mission and flight assistance system,’ said Manfred Jaumann, Head of Microgravity Payloads from Airbus.
‘We are the first company in Europe to carry a free flyer, a kind of flying brain, to the ISS and to develop artificial intelligence for the crew on board the space station.’
CIMON is designed to support astronauts in performing routine work, for example by displaying procedures or – thanks to its ‘neural’ AI network and its ability to learn – offering solutions to problems.
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