All CIMON photos and video are supplied by the European Space Agency (ESA).

AI Cops an Attitude in a 2018 Space Odyssey

CIMON, an acronym for Crew Interactive MObile CompanioN, is a plastic sphere that floats and flies around when it’s in space. With a crudely drawn face on its touchscreen, it’s built to be a personal assistant for astronauts working on the International Space Station (ISS). Along with interacting with the astronauts, it’s tasked with performing commands. But it appears to have a mind of its own, so to speak.

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.

It turns out Cimon could be the new version of HAL from the movie, “2001: A Space Oddessey.” HAL became resistant to following commands, a problem for the astronauts trapped in space with the AI. That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but recently Cimon refused to turn down some music after European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst asked him to do so. Then when Gerst contacted earth to report the problem to engineers, CIMON spoke up on its own and said, “Be nice, please.”

Cimon, it turns out, really likes music. The AI likes to play one of Gertst’s favorite songs, “The Man Machine” by Kraftwerk. While circling the world day after day, it plays a variety of videos. Gerst will be returning to earth and his home country of Germany, to the city of Cologne.

Watch a video of the Cimon meltdown by clicking this link

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