The Crew Interactive Cell Companion (or CIMON, for brief) recorded a lot of firsts on its preliminary mission to the Worldwide Space Station, which passed off final November, together with turning into the first-ever autonomous free-floating robot to function aboard the station, and the first-ever sensible astronaut assistant. However CIMON is way more than an Alexa for house, and CIMON-2, which launched aboard right this moment’s SpaceX ISS resupply mission, will show a lot of methods the astronaut help robot may help these working in house — from each a sensible and an emotional angle.

CIMON is the product of a collaboration between IBM, the German Aerospace Middle (DLR) and Airbus, and its intention is to design and develop a robotic assistant to be used in house that may serve a lot of capabilities, together with issues as mundane as serving to to retrieve data and hold monitor of duties astronauts are doing on board the station, and as wild as probably serving to to alleviate or curb the results of social points which may come up from settings wherein a small workforce works in shut quarters over a protracted interval.

“The goal of mission one was really to commission CIMON and to really understand if he can actually work with the astronauts — if there are experiments that he can support,” defined IBM’s Matthias Biniok, venture supervisor on the Watson AI features of the mission. “So that was very successful — the astronauts really liked working with CIMON.”

“Now, we are looking at the next version: CIMON-2,” Biniok continued. “That has more capability. For example, it has better software and better hardware that has been improved based on the outcomes that we had with mission one — and we have also some new features. So for example, on the artificial intelligence side, we have something called emotional intelligence, based on our IBM Watson Tone Analyzer, with we’re trying to understand and analyze the emotions during a conversation between CIMON and the astronauts to see how they’re feeling — if they’re feeling joyful, if something makes them angry, and so on.”

That, Biniok says, may assist evolve CIMON right into a robotic countermeasure for one thing known as “groupthink,” a phenomenon whereby a bunch of people that work intently collectively step by step have all their opinions migrate towards consensus or similarity. A CIMON with correct emotional intelligence may detect when this may be occurring, and react by both offering an goal, impartial view — and even probably taking up a contrarian or “Devil’s advocate” perspective, Biniok says.

That’s a future intention, however in the near-term CIMON can have plenty of sensible profit just by releasing up time spent on sure duties by astronauts themselves.

“Time is super expensive on the International Space Station,” Biniok stated. “And it’s very limited, so if we could save some crew time with planning, that would be super helpful to the astronauts. CIMON can also support experiments — imagine that you’re an astronaut up there, you have complex research experiments going on, and there’s a huge amount of documentation for that. And if you are missing some information, or you have a question about it, then you have to look up in this documentation, and that takes time. Instead of doing that, you could actually just ask CIMON — so for example, ‘what’s the next step CIMON?,’ or ‘why am I using Teflon and not any other materials?’ ”

CIMON may act as a cell documentarian, utilizing its onboard video digicam to file experiments and different actions on the Space Station. It’s in a position to achieve this autonomously, too, Biniok notes, in order that an astronaut can theoretically ask it to navigate to a particular location, take a photograph, then return and present that photograph to the astronaut.

This time round, CIMON might be trying to keep on the ISS for a for much longer span than model one; up to three years, in actual fact. Biniok had nothing particular to share on plans past that, however did say that long-term, the plan is totally to lengthen CIMON’s mission to embody the Moon, Mars and past.

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