Following a successful 14-month cosmic mission (and a short trip home to Earth), CIMON-2 arrived back on the artificial satellite with a heightened ability to analyze human emotion.
CIMON 2 was launched for the ISS aboard SpaceX's robotic Dragon cargo capsule, which lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
CIMON-2 is the next generation of the Crew Interactive Mobile Companion.
It can also recognize, learn from, and bone with crew members through natural language; offer creative solutions to tricky challenges; and even serve as a security guard, noticing potential problems before they become unsafe. "CIMON-2 has more sensitive microphones and a more advanced sense of orientation". Airbus supplied an upgraded version of the software for CIMON 2's guidance navigation and control system, which will allow the robot more seamlessly autonomously move about the space station.
Ethical questions concerning the future use of CIMON, meanwhile, are under scrutiny by physicians at Ludwig-Maximilians University (LMU) in Munich.More news: Rangers v Celtic: Scottish League Cup final select XI
Matthias Biniok, IBM project lead, said: "If required, it can switch from being a scientific assistant to an empathetic conversation partner".
Similar in shape to CIMON-1 with a spherical shape, slight smile and ability to move around the ISS, CIMON-2 is meant to be on the floating laboratory "for up to three years", Biniok noted. CIMON can also support experiments - imagine that you're an astronaut up there, you have complex research experiments going on, and there's a huge amount of documentation for that. "Another key point in CIMON's evolution is its extended service life: "During this mission, we are also considering further steps, such as uploading the AI to a cloud on the ISS".
CIMON-2 and the original CIMON robot look like floating spheres with one flattened side.
European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst performed and recorded a 90-minute demonstration with CIMON that showcased the robot's ability to fly freely around the station and play music.
"Group-thinking is really risky", Biniok said, adding that in times of disagreement, a vital part of CIMON's role would be to serve as "an objective outsider", that astronauts can talk to when they're alone, or that can help a group collaborate.More news: Vardy double in Leicester’s 8th straight Premier League win
But CIMON can also be a conversational companion for lonely astronauts. CIMON 1 was trained to identify Gerst via facial and speech recognition.
But CIMON relies on human interaction to learn.
Myers-Briggs classifications are responsible for his introverted, sensing, thinking and judging personality.
And for anyone having flashbacks to Hal from "2001: A Space Odyssey", astronauts can even ask CIMON what he thinks about the sci-fi AI and he'll respond with "I'm afraid I cannot do that" in the same eerie tone.
CIMON is the product of a collaboration between IBM, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and Airbus, and its aim is to design and develop a robotic assistant for use in space that can serve a number of functions, including things as mundane as helping to retrieve information and keep track of tasks astronauts are doing on board the station, and as wild as potentially helping to alleviate or curb the effects of social issues that might arise from settings in which a small team works in close quarters over a long period.More news: Lazio vs Juventus: Italy Champions blown away in Roma despite Ronaldo goal