international space station's 'flying brain' robot ball makes its debut

international space station's 'flying brain' robot ball makes its debut

earlier this year, designboom reported on the international space station’s new AI-powered robot, CIMON, a 3D-printed plastic sphere designed to test human-machine interaction in space. short for crew interactive mobile companion, CIMON is described as a ‘mobile and autonomous assistance system’ and is designed to float around the station and help answer astronauts’ questions. now, in a new video release by the european space agency, CIMON has made its official debut successfully interacting with a crew member. 


video by european space agency, ESA



ESA astronaut alexander gerst welcomes the new face to the columbus laboratory. after introducing himself, where he comes from and what he can do, CIMON tests his free-flying abilities, helps alexander with a procedure and even plays alexander’s favourite song ‘man machine’ by kraftwerk. in fact, CIMON likes the music so much, he does not want to stop.

international space station's 'flying brain' robot ball makes its debut

gerst and CIMON will experiment with crystals, work together to solve the Rubik’s cube and perform a complex medical experiment using CIMON as an ‘intelligent’ flying camera
image courtesy of airbus



the $6 million, medicine ball-sized, ‘flying brain’ robot was built by airbus under a contract awarded by the german aerospace center (DLR) and uses artificial intelligence software by IBM watson. its scientific aspects are overseen by researchers at ludwig maximilians university clinic in munich. it uses 12 internal fans, which allow it to move in multiple directions while floating in the microgravity conditions of space. it can display instructions on its screen, capture video, play music, and even search for objects on board.

international space station's 'flying brain' robot ball makes its debut

CIMON taking instruction from alexander
all other images courtesy of ESA



according to the ESA, both CIMON’s developers and alexander are happy with his initial outing and hope to see him in action again soon. no further sessions other than this are planned during the horizons mission at this stage but it could mark the beginning of exciting collaboration between astronauts, robotic assistants and possible future artificial intelligence in space.

international space station's 'flying brain' robot ball makes its debut
CIMON floats onboard 

international space station's 'flying brain' robot ball makes its debut

a view from CIMON’s built-in camera

    have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
    all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

    comments policy
    LOG IN
    designboom's comment policy guidelines
    generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
    the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

    what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
    let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

    - please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
    - please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
    - please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
    - please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
    - please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
    (there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
    in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
    the best 100-200 entries too.)

    a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


    a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

    technology news

    keep up with our daily and weekly stories
    504,290 subscribers
    - see sample
    - see sample
    designboom magazine