The AI-powered robot CIMON was sent to the International Space Station in June to serve as an interactive assistant to ISS crew members. It was designed to answer questions and help astronauts with various tasks.
CIMON Ignores Command
CIMON, which stands for Crew Interactive MObile companioN, is supposed to offer camaraderie to astronauts stationed at the orbiting laboratory, but a video of its first interaction with ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst shows that it is not operating as expected.
In the video, Gerst can be seen asking the basketball-sized robot some basic questions, which CIMON answered. The robot also helped Gerst with a scientific procedure and, as requested, played the German astronaut's favorite song, Kraftwerk's "Man-Machine."
CIMON apparently liked the song very much it refused to follow Gerst's instruction to cancel music.
Gerst tried to make other requests but had trouble getting CIMON out of the music mode. The robot outrightly ignored the "cancel music" command and even got offended when Gerst asked engineers down on Earth for help to get CIMON in line.
"Be nice, please," the robot told Gerst.
"I am nice!" Gerst retorted. "He's accusing me of not being nice! He's a bit sensitive today."
Gerst also had to reposition the robot after it drifted toward the floor of the spacecraft. The seemingly emotional CIMON asserted that his handler is mean and asked, "Don't you like it here with me?"
The robot then suggested that Gerst must be hungry and asked him if he would like to be reminded when it is time for lunch.
Here's the video of Gerst and CIMON's interaction:
CIMON Designed To Help Gerst In Tasks Aboard The ISS
Gerst is tasked to test CIMON in his second six-month mission to the ISS. Airbus, which helped developed the system for the German Aerospace Center (DLR), said that the AI was trained using Gerst's voice samples and photos.
The robot was designed to help Gerst in his daily routines aboard the ISS and can recognize the astronaut by his face.
"As a demonstration of its assistance capabilities, CIMON displayed instructions for a school science experiment on crystallisation and a video of the Rubik's cube puzzle on its 'face', a screen set in the centre of the sphere, and played a piece of music," Airbus said of Gerst and CIMON's first interaction.
"It then tested its ultrasonic sensors, which have a similar function to a car's parking sensors, and took a photo and shot a video of Gerst using its integrated cameras."