A ‘Flying Brain’ AI Assistant to Launch into Space this Summer

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powered by IBM’s watson supercomputer, airbus and germany’s DLR space agency have developed CIMON, the first form of artificial intelligence to arrive on the international space station. short for crew interactive mobile companion, CIMON is described as a ‘mobile and autonomous assistance system’.

the technology will help astronauts with a range of tasks as well as providing some sort of companionship. CIMON will be tested on the ISS by alexander gerst during the european space agency’s horizons mission between june and october 2018.

gerst and CIMON will experiment with crystals, work together to solve the Rubik’s cube and perform a complex medical experiment using CIMON as an ‘intelligent’ flying camera
images courtesy of airbus

we are the first company in europe to carry a free flyer,’ said manfred jaumann, head of microgravity payloads from airbus. ‘a kind of flying brain, to the ISS and to develop artificial intelligence for the crew on board the space station.’

thanks to smart learning, the system can orientate itself and move around, accumulating knowledge with the help of watson AI technology. eventually it will be able to recognise crew members, responding accordingly and gradually improving.

the entire structure of CIMON is made up of plastic and metal, created using 3D printing. according to its creators, it is the size of a medicine ball and weighs around 11lbs (5 kg).

with CIMON, crew members can do more than just work through a schematic view of prescribed checklists and procedures; they can also engage with their assistant,’ airbus said.in this way, CIMON makes work easier for the astronauts when carrying out everyday routine tasks, helps to increase efficiency, facilitates mission success, and improves security, as it can also serve as an early warning system for technical problems.’

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