|CIMON-2 will be equipped with emotional intelligence to cater to the needs of astronauts / Photo Credit: Sergey Nivens (via Shutterstock)|
CIMON-2 was developed by Airbus at the German Aerospace Center and is referred to as the next generation of the Crew Interactive Mobile Companion, said Ashley Strickland of American news channel CNN. The robot uses IBM artificial intelligence based on Watson technology. CIMON-2 is designed to interact with humans and help astronauts with tasks while autonomously navigating all over the European Columbus research module on the space station. The first generation of CIMON was deployed in 2018 to join astronauts on the space station.
European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst conducted and recorded a 90-minute demonstration showcasing CIMON’S ability to roam around the space station and play music. The robot’s “smart face” saw and recognized Gerst, looking him in the eye and conversing with him. The robot also relayed instructions and took videos and pictures of him. In August, CIMON returned to earth, with the German Aerospace Center determining Gerst’s first outing was a success. At that time, CIMON-2 was already in the works.
Till Eisenberg, CIMON Project Manager at Airbus, explained, “It is planned that CIMON-2 will stay on the ISS for up to three years and support the crew.” It will have more sensitive microphones and an improved sense of orientation. The complex software applications’ AI stability and capabilities will be improved as well. The extended stay allows the robot’s designers to evaluate how CIMON- 2 could be used in future missions like uploading its AI to a cloud on the space station, enabling a “completely autonomous system.”
Interestingly, CIMON-2 will be equipped with emotional intelligence. It can evaluate an astronaut’s emotions and respond to the situation appropriately in a way that is desired by the astronauts, explained Matthias Biniok, IBM's Lead Watson Architect for Germany. Or even when its emotional analysis capabilities are being tested in an experiment. Its ability to respond to the needs and emotions of astronauts is all thanks to IBM Watson Tone Analyzer from the IBM cloud in Frankfurt. To Biniock, this allows the robot to transition from a scientific assistant to an emphatic space companion.
The German Aerospace Center Space Administration’s CIMON Project Manager Christian Karrasch stated, “With CIMON-2, we are looking to build on the successful CIMON demonstration.”