SpaceX Launches AI Robot, Fresh Supplies For ISS Crew

SpaceX Launches AI Robot, Fresh Supplies For ISS Crew

SpaceX Launches AI Robot, Fresh Supplies For ISS Crew

Also on board are 20 brown female mice, half of them genetically identical from one strain or family, and the other half identical from another family.

Mr. Biniok said the concept of CIMON was inspired by a 1940s science fiction comic series set in space, where a sentient, brain-shaped robot named Professor Simon mentors an astronaut named Captain Future.

"I was going to say breathtaking, but maybe awakening might be a better word", said NASA's space station program manager, Kirk Shireman.

Like HAL, the autonomous Cimon is an acronym: it stands for Crew Interactive Mobile Companion.

"CIMON is created 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", Airbus explained in a news release. This means that CIMON can "float" at the station, which is zooming for astronauts who call on its name and shout in response to questions.

Bret Greenstein, global vice president of Watson Internet of Things Offerings at IBM, explained that CIMON will be able to listen to the astronaut.

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The statement said that CIMON is "tuned to relate to the astronaut, so if the astronaut says I miss my family - which we have [Biniok] saying, CIMON responds with a more compassionate tone and a suggestion on how to help".

Trained by Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency, it was designed by Airbus in collaboration with IBM. CIMON doesn't have any arms or legs, so it can't assist with any physical tasks, but it features a language user interface, allowing crew members to verbally communicate with it.

Cimon smiles when it senses the conversation is upbeat and frowns when it's sad.

CIMON has been equipped with 14 internal fans to help it maneuver in space in a zero-gravity environment.

The entire project, barely two years in the making, came in under 5 million Euros, or $5.8 million. Because it's perfectly round - a little bigger than a basketball - it's also safer, with no sharp edges that could damage space station equipment or poke astronauts. From there, it is scheduled to rendezvous with the ISS on July 2.

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