Meet Cimon: First AI, flying space robot going to work on Space Station

SpaceX Falcon 9 to launch Cimon and 3 tons of science, supplies Friday morning


CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – He's the new best friend of an International Space Station astronaut.

Cimon, short for Crew Interactive Mobile Companion, is a highlight of the three tons of science and supplies SpaceX is expected to launch on board a Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft Friday.

Cimon, pronounced Simon, looks like a basketball and will become the world's first AI-based, flying space robot.

Cimon will be the 11-pound right-hand to German astronaut and ISS Commander Alexander Gerst. It's trained to recognize his face and voice.

IBM Watson Services built Cimon's artificial intelligence giving him a face that expresses emotions. Cimon is programmed to relate to astronauts. For example, if an astronaut says 'I miss my family,' the robot will respond with a more compassionate tone and offer to help.

"By having a face on it, which the astronaut helped us design what face was appropriate, you get feedback and interaction. And while you're speaking, you can tell you're being understood," said Bret Greenstein with IBM.

Cimon's 14 fans powered in zero-gravity will fly it around the ISS.

"Training any AI to be helpful, to help people get their jobs done is a great thing," Greenstein said. "And this is a tool, a very powerful tool. It's amazing and it will only get smarter."

The CRS-15 resupply mission to the ISS is targeted for launch at 5:42 a.m. Friday. Watch the launch live on News 6 and ClickOrlando.com. 

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