CIMON: The AI Space Robot
Wed, April 21, 2021

CIMON: The AI Space Robot

CIMON is trained specifically for astronauts / Credits: NASA via Wikimedia Commons


A job in space, while fascinating, comes with extremely hard responsibilities. Scientists and astronauts need to find new ways to achieve their goals. One of their solutions is developing CIMON, an artificial intelligence space robot created by IBM, Airbus, and Germany’s DLR space agency. CIMON, which is short for Crew Interactive Mobile companiON, was deployed on the International Space Station (ISS) in 2018 and returned to Earth in August 2019.

CIMON, which looks like a flying brain, is a spherical, free-flying robot that is powered by AI. It uses a touchscreen and voice commands to communicate with astronauts. Since it is trained specifically for astronauts, the robot can understand specific language, based on the things he will be asked to do on the ISS. At the same time, it can provide systems and information to support procedures and documentation.

But CIMON is only the first version; there’s another version that scientists have developed called CIMON-2. Matthias Biniok, who worked as an IBM project lead on the CIMON-2 robot, stated that the base technology of the second version is just the same as the first one. “We use our IBM Watson intelligence to do similar things to what Siri, Google Assistant, or Alexa are doing: understanding human language and reacting based on what the human is saying,” he said. 

According to Digital Trends, a technology news, lifestyle, and information website that publishes news, reviews, guides, how-to articles, descriptive videos and podcasts about technology and consumer electronics products, the difference between the two versions is that CIMON-2 can indicate responses by either nodding or shaking its head. This is different from the first one because it only receives voice queries and offers verbal responses. At the same time, CIMON-2 can carry out tasks like moving about the ISS searching for objects on-demand or taking stock of inventory.