As we are supposedly entering the robotic age, robots are being introduced in the important sectors of the modern day world. A floating robot has been sent to International Space Station (ISS) with a mission to assist astronauts in conduction space tasks.
Popularly, named as Cimon (Crew Interactive Mobile Companion), the robotic device is sent to work as “an AI-based assistant for astronauts”. The weight of the robot is just about 5 kg and it will be able to float around in zero gravity due to the 14 internal fans affixed in it. Cimon, which is sent to ISS on experimental basis, is in fact an attempt to assess whether robots and astronauts can collaborate with each other on a space mission or not.
Cimon has been equipped with microphones and cameras which will enable him to visualize and recognise Alexander Gerst, the German astronaut with whom it is supposed to work with. The robot has been designed with an “offline” button which will allow Gerst to avoid audio streamed to servers on Earth during the time he wants privacy on the mission. Earlier, the rocket along with the bot went on its way into the space by taking off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 05:42 Eastern time (10:42 BST). As per IBM engineer Matthias Biniok, “Right now our main mission is to support the astronauts with their daily tasks to save time, because time is the most valuable and most expensive thing on the ISS.”
Cimon was actually developed for the German national space agency, DLR collectively by Airbus and IBM. While on the space mission, it will ably give instruction to the astronauts to carry out scientific experiments and at the same time will also answer verbal questions in English. According to AI expert Noel Sharkey, using artificial intelligence to assist in space flights is certainly a good use of the technology but Cimon will have to prove its worth in the maiden space trip. From this, it is clear that it is only if the robot is worth the presence in the present space flight that other astronauts would agree to accompany it to assist them in future space missions.