The Crew Interactive Mobile Companion (CIMON), a spherical 11-pound robot, has just returned from the ISS. During its time there, it used microphones and cameras to record astronauts, complete with an expressive digital face, and even the ability to make small talk. Researchers at IBM and Airbus have almost have its successor, set to launch in December, ready with plenty of upgrades, including a new computer, better microphones, improved flight control and more conversation skills. Read more for a video and additional information.
Its “brain” is powered by a version of IBM Watson — the AI that defeated “Jeopardy!” champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter in 2011 to win $1 million – can interpret data, respond to commands, solve problems, all without any internet connection. The project explored how astronauts get along with artificially intelligent beings for extended periods of time.
“CIMON will be the first [artificial intelligence]-based mission and flight assistance system. [CIMON will be] a free flyer, a kind of flying brain” that will interact with, aid, and learn from astronauts,” said Manfred Jaumann, a payload engineer at Airbus.