Summary: Today (Dec. 8) SpaceX’s Dragon capsule docked at the International Space Station, bringing supplies, experiments and CIMON 2, a friendly robot to keep the astronauts company for the next three years.
Original author and publication date: CNN Wire – December 6, 2019
Futurizonte Editor’s Note: This updated version of an astronaut robot will greatly help human astronauts (or at least that’s the idea, if HAL agrees.)
From the article:
CIMON-2 is the next generation of the Crew Interactive Mobile Companion. The robot was built by Airbus at the German Aerospace Center and uses IBM artificial intelligence based on Watson technology. It’s designed for human interaction and to help the astronauts with tasks as it autonomously navigates around the European Columbus research module on the space station.
In 2018, the first generation of CIMON joined astronauts on the space station. The robot marked the world’s first artificial intelligence system on the space station.
European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst performed and recorded a 90-minute demonstration with CIMON that showcased the robot’s ability to fly freely around the station and play music. Its “smart face” was able to spot and recognize Gerst, make eye contact and carry on a conversation with him. The robot also helped provide instructions and took video and images of Gerst.
Because CIMON can record the astronauts, it caused a question of ethics concerning what CIMON can share and say.
“The new CIMON has a built-in switch that enables the data streams from all cameras and microphones to be interrupted from the ISS. The astronaut has control over CIMON at all times, which was especially important for us,” said Judith Buchheim, a researcher at Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich and part of the team of physicians who evaluated the ethics of the experiment.
CIMON returned to Earth in August, and the German Aerospace Center Space Administration determined that his first outing was a success. CIMON-2 was already in the works, full of upgrades that were deemed necessary during the first robotic test.
“It is planned that CIMON-2 will stay on the ISS for up to three years and support the crew,” said Till Eisenberg, CIMON Project Manager at Airbus. “CIMON-2 has more sensitive microphones and a more advanced sense of orientation. The AI capabilities and stability of the complex software applications have also been substantially improved.”