There Is An AI Robot On The International Space Station And It Just Threw A Tantrum In Its First Online Video
OK, this didn't go entirely to plan.
In July of this year, the first artificially intelligent robot assistant was sent to the International Space Station (ISS) as a mobile companion for astronauts. The robot's name is Cimon and it is a plastic spherical object with a face on a screen that is currently being tested on the ISS for a select range of capabilities.
The European Space Agency has posted the first video of Cimon with German astronaut and geophysicist Alexander Gerst and, while the robot is initially polite and helpful, Cimon decides to throw a small tantrum at Gerst.
The video begins with an easy interaction between Gerst and Cimon, including Cimon saying where he is from and relaying a fact about Mercury.
Gerst then begins to demonstrate some of Cimon's functions by instructing it to turn 90 degrees; when told it has done a good job, the robot replies: "I am happy you like it."
Cimon is then instructed to play Gerst's favourite song four minutes into the video and the robot begins to blare "The Man-Machine" by Kraftwerk.
Gerst looks thrilled and begins to pump his hands a little to the track.
Gerst then tells Cimon to begin recording him on video and things get interesting.
Cimon doesn't want to turn off the music function and when Gerst tells him to switch it off at 4 minutes 36 seconds the robot replies: "I love music you can dance to. Alright, favourite hits incoming. What else can I do for you?"
Gerst is amused and says he understands why the robot doesn't want to turn the music off.
After Gerst repeats the instruction to change from the music function, Cimon asks him at 5 minutes 22 seconds to "be nice please".
"I am nice! He's accusing me of not being nice! He just doesn't know me when I'm not nice," says a slightly baffled Gerst.
Cimon continues to sound hurt by the astronaut.
Cimon asks "don't you like it here with me?" and then tells Gerst "don't be so mean please".
"I'm not mean! He's telling me I'm mean!" says Gerst, looking confused as a woman filming in the background begins to laugh at the interaction.
Cimon has been designed by aeronautical engineering company Airbus to help astronauts with routine tasks and its ability to learn means that it may begin to offer solutions to onboard problems. It is equipped with 12 fans that mean it can sit stably and navigate the cabin in the microgravity conditions inside the ISS.
Throughout the video, Cimon begins to float towards the deck of the module without instruction and Gerst comments that the robot appears to like it closer to the bottom of the cabin because he keeps flying down.
The video captures the earliest of three experimental stages with the robot and Airbus hopes that Cimon can be developed in the long term to assist on missions to Mars.