WATCH: CIMON, first AI robot in space, accuses astronaut of ‘not being nice’

CIMON’s first video demonstration from ISS shows a rather sensitive side of the artificial intelligence-based bot.

| Updated on: Aug 20 2022, 12:11 IST
German astronaut Alexander Gerst interacts with technology demonstrator CIMON
German astronaut Alexander Gerst interacts with technology demonstrator CIMON (ESA/NASA)
German astronaut Alexander Gerst interacts with technology demonstrator CIMON
German astronaut Alexander Gerst interacts with technology demonstrator CIMON (ESA/NASA)

Free-floating CIMON (Crew Interactive Mobile Companion) is the first interactive Artificial Intelligence-powered assistant to go to space. Deployed at the International Space Station (ISS), CIMON's objective is to assist astronauts in conducting experiments. In its first video demonstration from ISS, CIMON AI bot showed a rather unexpected behaviour, accusing the fellow astronaut of not being nice to him.

German astronaut Alexander Gerst began the video demonstration with simple commands such as introduce himself and play his favourite music. CIMON is prompt in responding to these basic queries. About 4:08 mark of the video, CIMON starts to act up when the astronaut asks him to stop talking about music and continue with live stream from the front camea.

Soon enough, CIMON asks Gerst "Don't you like it here with me?" and even accuses him of being mean to him. After brief back and forth with the bot, Gerst concludes the video.

The European Space Agency (ESA), however, isn't discouraged by the weird behaviour of the CIMON AI bot.

"Happy with his initial outing, both Cimon's developers and Alexander hope to see Cimon back in action again soon. While no further sessions are planned during the Horizons mission at this stage, it could mark the beginning of exciting collaboration between astronauts, robotic assistants and possible future artificial intelligence in space," said the space agency.



CIMON is a 3D printed plastic sphere, roughly the size of a basketball, which has been designed to test human-machine interaction in space. The AI bot has been designed and developed by Germany-based Airbus. The bot runs on Watson AI software provided by IBM.

CIMON is said to be inspired by a 1940s science fiction comic series set in space. In the series, a brain-shaped robot called Professor Simon, mentors an astronaut named Captain Future.

"Cimon weighs around 5kg and has a display screen at its centre. Its main aim is to support and increase astronaut efficiency by displaying and explaining information needed to carry out scientific experiments and repairs," said ESA in a blog post.

"Other applications include mobile photography and videography and the ability to document experiments, search for objects and maintain an inventory. Cimon can also see, hear and understand what it observes and is equipped with an autonomous navigation system, allowing Alexander to issue voice commands like you would to virtual assistants like Alexa, Siri or Cortana on the ground," it added.

CIMON was sent to the ISS in June this year and is scheduled to return to Earth on December 13.

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First Published Date: 02 Dec, 15:44 IST