SpaceX Is Transporting AI Support Robot CIMON to ISS

How Blockchain Can Benefit Space Exploration

How Blockchain Can Benefit Space Exploration

An artificial intelligence robot dubbed Crew Interactive Mobile Companion (or CIMON for short) is now en route to the ISS onboard a NASA-contracted SpaceX Dragon spacecraft.

Also on board are a new spare hand for the space station's robotic arm, genetically identical mice, or mousetronauts, and super-caffeinated coffee for the ISS crew.

Among the hundreds of pounds of hardware flying to the space station is a spare Canadian-built Latching End Effector (LEE).

Cimon's human handlers promised the first AI space bot will behave itself and said there would be no mutinous takeovers like HAL from the 1968 film classic 2001: A Space Odyssey'.

The robot, called Crew Interactive Mobile Companion (CIMON), has been developed by Airbus in partnership with IBM.

To prepare CIMON for its trip to space, researchers trained the robot using photos and voice samples of German astronaut Alexander Gerst as well as ISS procedures and plans.

According to, CIMON features ultrasonic sensors for collision detection as well as various cameras and microphones to help it maneuver around the spacecraft and interact with space crew. Using its 14 internal fans, CIMON can accelerate toward any astronaut calling its name and can appear to "nod" to show understanding of a command. Their common language will be English, the official language of the space station.

The pilot project will be led by DLR astronaut Alexander Gerst, who arrived on the ISS about a month ago.

Next year, Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano will be Cimon's orbital master.

The statement said that CIMON is "tuned to relate to the astronaut, so if the astronaut says I miss my family - which we have [Biniok] saying, CIMON responds with a more compassionate tone and a suggestion on how to help". Because it's perfectly round - a little bigger than a basketball - it's also safer, with no sharp edges that could damage space station equipment or poke astronauts. Live coverage of the rendezvous and capture will air on NASA Television and the agency's website beginning at 2:30 a.m. PDT (5:30 a.m. EDT) Monday, July 2.

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