In the ongoing adventures of everyone’s favorite spherical ISS robot, IBM has revealed that CIMON has been upgraded to CIMON-2, complete with improvements to its artificial intelligence.
According to a recent press release, CIMON, or Crew Interactive Mobile Companion, is billed as “the world’s first AI-powered astronaut assistant.” But with CIMON-2, the objective of the researchers is now to “transform CIMON from a scientific assistant into ‘an empathetic companion.’”
“CIMON-2 includes more sensitive microphones, more robust computers, and IBM Watson Tone Analyzer technology, which uses linguistic analysis to detect emotion from the tone of a conversation.”
While the original CIMON also used Watson AI, according to IBM, the Watson Tone Analyzer will put CIMON-2 on another level, equipping it with what IBM project manager Matthias Biniok refers to as “emotional intelligence.”
“For example, if CIMON-2 were to sense that an astronaut is challenged by a task, it could offer assistance or encouragement.”
We could all use assistance and encouragement from a spherical robot every once in a while, don’t you think?
Last year, we watched as ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst introduced the bot to the world, and things got a little weird. Let’s just say the original CIMON enjoyed talking about music, and didn’t like being talked down to. It returned to Earth back in August.
I guess we’ll see how version two turns out. CIMON-2 arrived at the ISS aboard a SpaceX rocket that launched on December 4, 2019, and is intended to stay in orbit for about three years. The entire project is a joint effort involving IBM, Airbus, and the German Aerospace Center.