Emotion-sensing robot launches to assist space station astronauts

Ruben Fields
December 9, 2019

A new Crew Interactive MObile CompanioN (CIMON) for the International Space Station (ISS) dubbed CIMON-2 lifted off on its journey into space on December 5, 2019.

CIMON-2 also features another intriguing upgrade: a kind of emotional intelligence.

The robotic helper was delivered to the ISS on SpaceX's Dragon capsule launched from Cape Canaveral this week.

It can also recognize, learn from, and bone with crew members through natural language; offer creative solutions to tricky challenges; and even serve as a security guard, noticing potential problems before they become risky.

In accordance with Biniok, CIMON 2 has been created to act as 'an goal outsider that you would also discuss over with whenever you happen to're by myself, or might perchance perhaps perchance if truth be told support let the neighborhood collaborate again'.

Ethical questions concerning the future use of CIMON, meanwhile, are under scrutiny by physicians at Ludwig-Maximilians University (LMU) in Munich.

'The relationship between an astronaut and CIMON is really important'.

CIMON is expected to spend up to three years at the ISS, three times longer than its recently returned predecessor. CIMON can read experimental procedures, record videos, and even conduct simple conversations with astronauts.

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"Its AI capabilities and the stability of its complex software applications have also been significantly improved".

This extended stay will allow CIMON's design team to evaluate how the robot could be utilized during future missions, like uploading its AI to a cloud on the space station to create a completely autonomous assistance system. "As with the original CIMON, CIMON-2 will use a dozen internal rotors to maneuver weightlessly, nod or shake its head when listening, and follow an astronaut autonomously or on command".

When German astronaut Alexander Gerst tested the initial iteration of the robot out past year, CIMON refused to switch off a song, and told Gerst "Be nice please" when he repeated the request.

CIMON 2 may also have the ability to present solutions about a wide range of technical and educational topics in circumstances the place an necessary reality has slipped an astronaut's thoughts and so they don't have an iPhone helpful to Google the reply.

CIMON-2 and the original CIMON robot look like floating balls with a flattened side.

And programmers have this time promised a more friendly, conversational version, capable of analysing the astronauts' emotions and acting in an appropriate manner. CIMON 1 was trained to identify Gerst via facial and speech recognition.

And for anyone having flashbacks to Hal from "2001: A Space Odyssey", astronauts can even ask CIMON what he thinks about the sci-fi AI and he'll respond with "I'm afraid I cannot do that" in the same eerie tone.

Christian Karrasch, the project manager for DLR Space Administration, which implements Germany's space programme, added: "When travelling to the Moon or Mars, the crew would then be able to rely on an AI-based assistance service, even without a permanent data link to Earth. One specific application for Earth, for instance, would be helping people to perform complex tasks in areas with poor infrastructure".

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