ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst welcomed a new face to the Columbus laboratory, thanks to the successful commissioning of technology demonstration Cimon. Short for Crew Interactive Mobile CompanioN, Cimon is a 3D-printed plastic sphere designed to test human-machine interaction in space.
Developed and built by Airbus in Friedrichshafen and Bremen, Germany, on behalf of German Space Agency DLR, Cimon uses artificial intelligence software by IBM Watson. Its scientific aspects are overseen by researchers at Ludwig Maximilians University Clinic in Munich.
This video shows Alexander’s first interactions with Cimon on board the International Space Station. After introducing himself, where he comes from and what he can do, Cimon tests his free-flying abilities, helps Alexander with a procedure and even plays Alexander’s favourite song ‘Man Machine’ by Kraftwerk. In fact, Cimon likes the music so much, he does not want to stop.
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.