CIMON, after successfully completing 14 months as astronaut assistance at the ISS (International Space Organization) returned to Earth last week on August 27.
AI has been in existence for quite a while now but development and potential are truly being realized in recent times. AI has spread across various sectors such as Healthcare, BFSI, Retail, Advertising & Media, Automotive & Transportation, Agriculture, Manufacturing, and other including Space.
CIMON is proof of AI in the Space sector. Described as the flying brain by Airbus team, CIMON (Crew Interactive Mobile CompaniON) is the world’s first AI-based astronaut assistance developed by Airbus and IBM along with the collaboration of the German Aerospace Center (DLR). This AI-powered computer is designed for the interaction with astronauts such that it behaves like a regular member of the crew.
The Airbus team said that the goal of CIMON is to make work easier for the astronauts in carrying out the daily tasks, adding that it can “increase efficiency, facilitate mission success, and improve security, as it can also serve as an early warning system for technical problems.”
According to Christian Karrasch, CIMON Project Manager at DLR, the technology demonstration of CIMON have successfully met the desired expectations. In a 90-minute mission with the German ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst on the ISS in November 2018, it was able to function well in microgravity conditions and was able to interact successfully with astronauts.
The project has outlined the use of AI in Space and its possibilities. The development of the advanced version of the AI has already started. Airbus project manager Till Eisenberg has teased some of the several features that will be coming to the new CIMON which includes better microphones, a more robust computer, improved flight, and attitude control, and new software features such as speech recognition, call history, and intent analysis.
According to the DLR statement, the German agency is working with the European Space Agency (ESA) to deliver the new CIMON to the ISS in December this year. The newer generation of CIMON will also be built by Airbus on behalf of DLR while the funding will be carried out by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy.
“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,” said Karrasch. With such developments, in the future we may see AI-Powered astronauts instead of AI-Powered astronaut assistants.