Artificial intelligence robot launched to ISS from US

Sunita Williams

For more than 17 years, humans have lived and worked continuously aboard the International Space Station, advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies, making research breakthroughs not possible on Earth that will enable long-duration human and robotic exploration into deep space.

The coverage of the NASA launch will start on NASA TV at 5:15 ET, while coverage of SpaceX will start from Liftoff about 20 minutes ago.

The thin line between science fiction and reality is soon going to vanish with robots completely powered with AI, ready to explore the outer space.

"That's actually our overall mission, to create a crew companion, a real crewmate to the astronauts", said Matthias Biniok, lead IBM Watson architect for Germany, Austria and Switzerland and the project lead for CIMON, according to the network.

Anyone who's watched 2001: A Space Odyssey knows what happens when you install super-smart computers in a spaceship.

CIMON's activation will mark "a historical moment", becoming the first robot of its kind to interact with people in space, said Christian Karrasch, CIMON project manager at the German Aerospace Center (DLR), during a NASA press briefing Thursday.

Like HAL, the autonomous Cimon is an acronym: it stands for Crew Interactive Mobile Companion.

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When Gerst calls to CIMON, the floating robot will acoustically sense where Gerst is calling from, orient itself that way, and zoom over. So bot microphones and cameras are specifically tuned to recognize their voice and face.

To get Cimon's attention, Gerst will need only to call its name.

Next year, Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano will be Cimon's orbital master. A small screen on the sphere serves as its face. It is developed by Airbus in collaboration with IBM.

The real AI payoff will be when astronauts travel to the moon, Mars or other distant destinations.

The Dragon will stay at the space station until August, when it will return to Earth with more than 3,800 pounds of research, hardware and crew supplies, NASA said.

Cimon is meant for additional brainpower, so it doesn't have legs or arms. Its creators saw Robonaut as a potential spacewalker, off in the future, that could venture outside for mundane tasks, saving astronauts considerable time and risk. Once fixed, an improved Robonaut may fly back to the space station. The AP is exclusively responsible for all content.

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