Mission horizons - experiment at a glance

Experiment CIMON - astronaut assistance system

Composite image of CIMON on the ISS
Composite image of CIMON on the ISS
Image 1/2, Credit: DLR/T. Bourry/ESA

Composite image of CIMON on the ISS

Composite image of CIMON floating in the Columbus Public Relations Module at ESA’s European Astronaut Centre (EAC) in Cologne-Porz (30 January 2018). CIMON is a flying and autonomous astronaut assistant. Equipped with artificial intelligence, this unique technology demonstrator will support the work of astronauts on the ISS during German ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst’s Horizons mission in the summer of 2018.
CIMON: Autonomous astronaut assistant
CIMON: Autonomous astronaut assistant
Image 2/2, Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

CIMON: Autonomous astronaut assistant

This DLR infographic presents the relevant facts about the horizons experiment CIMON at a glance.

CIMON is an innovative and globally unique astronaut assistance system. This autonomous flying system is equipped with Artificial Intelligence (AI) from IBM and will be used for the first time by ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst during the horizons mission. The DLR Space Administration awarded AIRBUS the contract to undertake the CIMON project using funds from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), and it was specially developed for use in the European Columbus module on the ISS. CIMON aims to demonstrate that human-machine interaction can support the work of astronauts and increase their efficiency. The flying companion can present and explain a wide range of information and instructions for scientific experiments and repairs. One big advantage of CIMON is that the astronaut can work freely with both hands while having voice-controlled access to documents and media. A further application of CIMON is its use as a mobile camera for operational and scientific purposes.

The flying companion can carry out routine tasks such as documenting experiments, searching for objects and performing inventories. CIMON can also see, hear, speak and understand. Cameras and software for facial recognition, orientation and video documentation serve as 'eyes'. Ultrasound sensors measure distances to avoid collisions. Its 'ears' are comprised of several microphones for spatial detection and a directional microphone for good voice recognition. CIMON's 'mouth' is a loudspeaker through which it can speak and play music. The heart of the AI for understanding speech is the IBM Watson system. The AI for autonomous navigation comes from AIRBUS and is used for movement planning and object recognition. CIMON is largely produced using a 3D printing process and, with a diameter of 32 centimetres, is slightly larger than a soccer ball. Through twelve fans, CIMON can freely move and rotate in any direction using air jets. Using these jets, it can turn to an astronaut if it is addressed, nod and shake its head, and independently follow the user on command. Terrestrial applications for the CIMON technologies are expected in Industry 4.0 (in robotic industrial production, for example), medicine and care as well as education.

Contact
  • Elke Heinemann
    German Aerospace Center (DLR)
    Public Affairs and Communications
    Telephone: +49 2203 601-2867
    Fax: +49 2203 601-3249

    Contact
  • Volker Schmid
    German Aerospace Center (DLR)
    Space Administration
    Human Spaceflight, ISS and Exploration
    Telephone: +49 228 447-305
    Fax: +49 228 447-737
    Königswinterer Straße 522-524
    53227 Bonn
    Contact
  • Martin Fleischmann
    German Aerospace Center (DLR)
    Space Administration
    Strategy and Communications
    Telephone: +49 228 447-120
    Fax: +49 228 447-386
    Königswinterer Straße 522-524
    53227 Bonn
    Contact
  • Christian Karrasch
    German Aerospace Center (DLR)
    Space Administration
    Human Spaceflight, ISS and Exploration
    Telephone: +49 228 447-291
    Fax: +49 228 447-737
    Königswinterer Straße 522-524
    53227 Bonn
    Contact

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