Design Engineering

The first AI robot is happily floating around Earth, solving a Rubik’s cube

Devin Jones   

Automation General Aerospace airbus ISS SpaceX

CIMON relies on facial recognition software to communicate with everyone on board the International Space Station.


CIMON sports a smile face and can understand English/Photo courtesy of Airbus.

The first artificially intelligent robot is currently orbiting around Earth in the International Space Station (ISS) courtesy of European aerospace company Airbus.

Sporting a smiling face informed by emotion-based algorithms, CIMON (Crew Interactive Mobile Companion) will support German astronaut Alexander Ernest—who helped create the UI for the machine—with three outlined objectives.

As the brainchild of Airbus, CIMON will experiment with crystals, work with Gerst to solve the Rubik’s cube and perform a complex medical experiment using itself as an ‘intelligent’ flying camera.

At roughly the size of a beach ball and weighing in at five kilograms, CIMON will also be able to interact with every other crewmember of the ISS. Its AI capabilities allow CIMON to understand English and respond with a nod.


Despite its social capabilities, CIMON is programmed to specifically help Gerst during its first stay on the ISS. The robot relies on a facial recognition system to communicate effectively and can respond to commands in English like, ‘CIMON, could you please help me perform a certain experiment?’ Or ‘Could you please help me with the procedure?’ In response, the robot will fly towards Gerst, to begin communication. The weightless robot moves by sucking in air and expelling it through tubes located in the back of its enclosure.

The machine is due to return to earth by December, where researchers will study and assess its abilities for future implementations.


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