CIMON is an artificial intelligence-powered assistant to help astronauts and increase the efficiency of work and repairs at the International Space Station (ISS). Its latest version, which is currently on board the ISS, the CIMON-2, has now successfully completed its initial testing phase.
The assistant made its journey to the ISS on December 5, last year. And it is set to remain on the space station for a period of three years. For the initial testing phase, CIMON-2's autonomous flight capabilities, voice control of navigation and other tasks were put through the works. Consequently, it was able to navigate to specific points within the Columbus module, regardless of where it was located, with only verbal commands.
This was demonstrated when, during the commissioning of the new hardware and software, Parmitano [ESA astronaut] asked CIMON-2 to fly to the Biological Experiment Laboratory (Biolab) within the Columbus module.
Similarly, the assistant was also able to capture photos and videos for the astronauts on command, which could prove to be a nifty convenience when conducting scientific experiments.
Another aim of the device was to help reduce the stress on the astronauts and study how humans respond to social isolation in space. Compared to its predecessorC CIMON-2 exhibits a 30 percent increase in autonomy and it aims for a more human-like experience by leveraging IBM's Watson Tone Analyzer. And this allows the assistant to drive more empathetic conversations.
All in all, IBM and its partners in this project, including Airbus, LMU, and ESA, commented that they "are very satisfied with the performance of CIMON-2 so far. The new, improved hardware and complex software worked very well."