A sci-fi robot hardwired floating ball-shaped, artificial intelligence robot launched from Florida early on Friday. This is the first personal, artificial intelligence-powered companion in space.
The ball-shaped device is called CIMON — shortened from Crew Interactive MObile CompanioN. It was described as a “flying brain” by Manfred Jaumann, head of microgravity payloads at Airbus.
CIMON will help German astronaut Alexander Gerst conduct experiments on the International Space Station (ISS).
A project in the works for the past two years. During these time CIMON has been trained to recognize the voice and face of Alexander Gerst, a geophysicist with the European Space Agency.
CIMON will be powered by more than a dozen propellers to help it jet around and avoid bumping into things inside the Columbus module of the space lab.
“This is designed to work in English. It understands Alexander,” said Bret Greenstein, global vice president of Watson Internet of Things Offerings at IBM.
“It was helpful to train it to recognize him so that it will come to him when he speaks.” All six crew members at the orbiting outpost can speak to CIMON, though it has been taught to work best with Gerst.
The robot is designed to guide Gerst through various science procedures, and show videos or pictures as needed.
“What we’re 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.
“Right now, our main mission is to support the astronauts with their daily tasks to save time, because time is the most valuable and most expensive thing on the ISS,” Mr. Biniok said.
Researchers say CIMON is not yet trained to respond to all possible emergencies and protocols on the space station.
It is scheduled to reach the space station on Monday. CIMON will return to Earth on December 13.
The flying brain is on its way to space. This is the start of AI era to space.