The ISS has a new crew member: Cimon, the flying AI drone

By Prosyscom
In March 1, 2018


The International Space Station (ISS) is getting its first form of artificial intelligence (AI), a flying intelligent drone named Cimon. 

Cimon stands for Crew Interactive Mobile Companion. The droid is a medicine ball-sized device and weighs about 5kg. It will be joining the crew at the ISS as a companion to a European astronaut, the German geophysicist Alexander Gerst, later this year.  

The flying drone is eerily similar to other space-based intelligent companions, like Holly from the TV show Red Dwarf. Cimon has a digital face and voice and is set to assist Gerst on different tasks during his time at the ISS. 

Designed by Airbus and fitted with IBM’s AI Watson, it will be helping the astronauts with experiments on the space station. For instance, Cimon will partake in a complex medical experiment where he will act as an intelligent flying camera. 

As well, Gerst and Cimon will be carrying out an experiment with crystals and attempt to solve the Rubik magic cube based on videos. 

The developers hope that Cimon will be an interactive assistant to the astronauts and help to reduce their stress as well as improve efficiency. 

In addition, Cimon should help enhance safety on the ISS, as the drone can serve as an early warning system in case of any technical problems. 

Cimon is being taught to recognise astronaut Alexander Gerst (Airbus )

Project leader Till Eisenberg said: “Cimon is a personal assistant capable of voice and facial recognition. We want to study the psychological effects of long space missions on crew members and try out suitable countermeasures, especially those that reduce stress.

“We will place special emphasis on data mining and interactions between humans and AI.”

The team hopes that Cimon will become sophisticated enough to tell how an astronaut is feeling from their facial expressions, such as whether they are stressed, sad or angry. 

But it’s not just all work for Cimon. The white droid can also provide entertainment to the astronauts and is being taught to play Gerst’s favourite music. 

Cimon will be joining Gerst on board the ISS during the European Space Agency’s Horizon mission between June and October this year. 


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