In 2018, we talked about the CIMON AI Companion that was made to support flight crews in space. The AI was made possible through the collaboration of IBM, DLR, and Airbus. That was the first edition; now, we have the new and improved CIMON-2 AI.
What exactly is CIMON?
CIMON is a 3D-printed AI sphere that aims to support astronauts during their long stay on space stations. Long stays in space can become tiresome and troublesome for them, so this kind of technology is a great step at helping them deal with this kind of situation.
CIMON-2 is finally here as the second step to this great AI. It has been successfully tested onboard the International Space Station (ISS) by astronaut Luca Parmitano. It takes the form of a ball-shaped voice-controlled assistant that floats around.
They tested all of CIMON-2’s newest upgrades. The most notable ones are navigating with voice control and autonomous flight capabilities. It was able to go from one point to the next one autonomously with only verbal commands.
CIMON-2 was also able to take photos and videos with verbal commands. This can be a huge help for astronauts in the future to support them in their experiments while in space.
Hardware and software improvements
Newer, more sensitive microphones were put into this current version, as well as a more developed sense of orientation. As for the software updates, most of them are just stability features and AI capabilities. The battery has been notably upgraded by 30%, and that is a huge amount, especially for this kind of AI.
IBM Watson-powered CIMON-2 debuted on the International Space Station and successfully completed research on stress + isolation during long-term missions – a benefit that could be used to address the effects of COVID-19 on Earth https://t.co/J3UfdtDX4o pic.twitter.com/XmbYtxWDcj
— IBM News (@IBMNews) April 15, 2020
Of course, the making of CIMON-2 also takes consideration of the astronauts’ needs. One of the goals of this project is to reduce astronauts’ stress. Right now, CIMON-2 has been developed and tested to recognize the tone of astronauts talking to react empathically to them. So far, CIMON-2 is seen as a success, and its developers are satisfied with its performance. It is scheduled to stay for three years on the ISS while doing more and more experiments.
YouTube: Trailer: CIMON – the intelligent astronaut assistant
Photo credit: The feature image is owned by IBM and has been provided for press usage. The photo in the body of the article has been provided by Airbus.
Sources: Airbus / IBM News Room / Mike Wall (Space) / DLR Portal