by Joel Hruska, ExtremeTech
When one considers the types of equipment shipped up to the International Space Station, there’s a certain list of default equipment that makes sense. Spare parts? Check. Food and medical supplies? Check. Some manner of entertainment options? Check. Eleven-pound robot head? Not so much. But IBM has visions of how such hardware might be useful, and it’s developed such a device — the Crew Interactive Mobile Companion (CIMON for short).
Cimon is technically powered by what IBM calls “Watson” technology, but it has a unique mission on the ISS. It will work with German astronaut Alexander Gerst to run some crystal experiments, solve a Rubik’s Cube, and conduct a “complex medical experiment” using Cimon as a flying camera.
All of this sounds fairly rote, but some of the other functions are more interesting. Cimon is also intended to serve as a colleague to on-board astronauts, including working through prescribed checklists in coordination with its “teammates.” There’s also talk of Cimon being able to serve as a safety-improvement by giving warnings of impending failures before astronauts might see them on a control board.
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