Floating robot CIMON-2 is on its way towards the International Space Station.

This Saturday, the Dragon capsule from SpaceX will dock at the International Space Station, alongside supplies, various scientific experiments, and a friendly robot meant to keep company to the astronauts for the following three years.

About the robot

CIMON-2 is the future generation of the Crew Interactive Mobile Companion and it was built by Airbus at the German Aerospace Center, packing IMB powered AI that is based on Watson technology.

The robot is designed for human interaction and to aid astronauts in tasks as it automatically wanders around the European-owned Columbus research module of the space station.

The first generation of CIMON joined astronauts on the space station in 2018, marking the world’s first artificial intelligence system on the space station.

A 90 minute demonstration of CIMON’s capabilities was recorded by European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst. The video captured the robot’s ability to fly boundlessly around the station and play music.

CIMON features a “smart face” that is capable to detect and recognize people, maintain eye contact and carry on a discussion with them. The robot was also extremely useful in providing instructions and even took video and images of Gerst.

A question regarding privacy was asked, because CIMON is able to record all that is said by the astronauts.

Judith Buchheim, researcher at Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, said:

“The new CIMON has a built-in switch that enables the data streams from all cameras and microphones to be interrupted from the ISS. The astronaut has control over CIMON at all times, which was especially important for us.”

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