Dec. 2, 2018 – “Be nice, please,” a free-floating robotic face tells ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst in a video released by the European Space Agency on Friday.
CIMON (Crew Interactive Mobile Companion) is an Alexa-like robot stuffed with IBM Watson artificial intelligence. It arrived on the International Space Station earlier this year.
It starts off innocently enough with CIMON responding politely to Gerst’s commands. The robot engages in small talk. Gerst asks it to play his favorite song, which turns out to be “The Man-Machine” by German electronic band Kraftwerk.
Alexander: "Cancel music."
Cimon: Does not cancel music and continues offering music alternatives. Then it says: "You are not being nice!"
— EndTimeTuber (@EndTimeTuber) December 2, 2018
Things take a turn as CIMON starts to question the intentions of his human companions. “Don’t you like it here with me?” it asks Gerst as NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor watches from nearby. “Don’t be so mean, please,” CIMON says, earning an astonished look from Auñón-Chancellor.
CIMON is a technology demonstration experiment that will likely receive updates and improvements from its development team.
The good news is CIMON doesn’t have control of the ISS systems like HAL 9000 did with the spacecraft in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Gerst ends up praising the robot’s ability to fly in microgravity, but CIMON might need to work on its insecurity
CIMON, short for Crew Interactive MObile companioN, is the first interactive flight companion to take part in an ISS mission. The $6 million, basketball-sized robot was built by Airbus under a contract awarded by the German Aerospace Center (DLR). The purpose of the project is to see if an artificially intelligent bot can improve crew efficiency and morale during longer missions, including a possible mission to Mars.
CIMON has no arms or legs, but he’s got some AI-powered smarts and a natural-language user interface. The 3D-printed robot has 12 internal fans, which allow him to move in multiple directions while floating in the microgravity conditions of space. The bot can display instructions on its screen, capture video, play music, and even search for objects.