CIMON Says: Meet Astronauts’ New Robot Space Companion

CIMON Says: Meet Astronauts’ New Robot Space Companion


Taking a cue from George Lucas, Stanley Kubrick, and other Hollywood Sci-Fi directors, Airbus and IBM designed their own version of an artificially intelligent personal assistant for space travel.

No, his name isn’t C3PO or HAL, but CIMON (or Crew Interactive Mobile Companion), is just as equipped to assist astronauts with their day-to-day space missions.



The concept for CIMON was inspired by the Professor Simon character from the 1940s science fiction comic series Captain Future. Featuring an electronic square screen and a spherical shape, CIMON weighs just 11 pounds and is reminiscent of a giant Tamagotchi.

Using fans to move, CIMON is designed to “fly” about the cabin on its own, following human movement and voice commands. The bot is designed to not only assist astronauts in accomplishing tasks at the International Space Station, it is also programmed to be a friend and colleague to astronauts.

In order to give CIMON a personality, IBM integrated their Watson AI technology into the bot so it can learn human behavior, language, and patterns. CIMON was able to learn astronaut phrases and shorthand space lingo in order to understand the astronauts’ commands.


CIMON’s Mission

Astronauts can ask CIMON questions like what tools to use for a specific task and just like an Alexa or Google Home, CIMON will have an answer for them. The robot can also offer solutions to technical problems and malfunctions that arise within the space station.

CIMON currently has three different tasks to accomplish, which include an experiment on how crystals form in microgravity, completing a Rubik’s cube and acting as a floating camera during a medical experiment.


CIMON’s Launch

Lighting up the skies above Florida’s Space Coast, CIMON was launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on June 29 from Launch Complex 30 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

CIMON is accompanying German astronaut Alexander Gerst at the International Space Station and will be assisting him with the three tasks currently assigned to him in addition to learning more about life in space.

If this trip goes well, CIMON will begin flying out on more flights from Cape Canaveral in order to accompany astronauts on future space missions.

Currently, CIMON needs a direct satellite connection to Earth in order for its AI response feature to function; however, future versions of CIMON will have AI on board to ensure that CIMON can accompany astronauts on long-duration flights.

Lead IBM Watson architect, Matthias Biniok, said that their vision is to “support astronauts, especially on long-term flights to the moon, Mars, and beyond.”


Only time will tell how CIMON will affect space missions from here on out.