The Crew Interactive Mobile CompaniON (CIMON) mobile astronaut assistant, which is equipped with artificial intelligence (AI), returned to Earth on 27 August 2019. The SpaceX CRS-18 Dragon spacecraft carrying CIMON was undocked from the International Space Station (ISS) at 16:59 CEST; the capsule splashed down in the Pacific Ocean approximately 480 kilometres southwest of Los Angeles and was recovered at 22:21 CEST. "We expect CIMON to return to Germany at the end of October," reports Christian Karrasch, CIMON Project Manager at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) Space Administration. He looks back on the past few months: "CIMON is a technology demonstration that has completely met our expectations. During its initial operation in space – a 90-minute mission with the German ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst on the ISS in November 2018 – it showed that it functions well in microgravity conditions and can interact successfully with astronauts. We are very proud to have been the first to use AI on the Space Station and have been working for several months on an improved successor model. With CIMON, we were able to lay the foundations for human assistance systems in space to support astronauts in their tasks and perhaps, in the future, to take over some of their work."
CIMON is designed to support astronauts in performing routine work, for example by displaying procedures or -- thanks to its --neural-- AI network and its ability to learn -- offering solutions to problems. It uses Watson AI technology from the IBM cloud and, with its face, voice and artificial intelligence, becomes a genuine --colleague-- on board. With CIMON, crew members can do more than just work through a schematic view of prescribed checklists and procedures; they can also engage with their assistant. In this way, CIMON makes work easier for the astronauts when carrying out every day routine tasks, helps to increase efficiency, facilitates mission success and improves security, as it can also serve as an early warning system for technical problems.
Astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) have been joined by an AI robot called CIMON. The current ISS commander, German astronaut Alexander Gerst, was first to speak with CIMON. Gerst said "Wake up, CIMON" which prompted the robot to respond "What can I do for you?" CIMON and Gerst's first assignment was to perform a student-designed experiment with crystals. The robot, after recognising Gerst's face and positioning itself autonomously, provided instructions on how to conduct the experiment. On Earth, CIMON weight just five kilograms and was designed by Airbus.