Long-duration missions place astronauts under immense stress and workload performing science experiments and maintaining space systems. High stress levels are shown to be detrimental to crew health due to immune system suppression and the increasing susceptibility to disease.
Crew support by an artificial intelligence (AI) could assist the crew in complex science experiment and maintenance duties. The Crew Interactive MObile companioN (CIMON) is just such a device. This device is a non-interventional, observational sphere developed to obtain insight into the effects of AI on crew support during long-term missions in space. CIMON interacts directly with the crew using verbal commands and has access to software and components, similar to that of the ground based IBM AI called ‘Watson”.
CIMON will be used to demonstrate how CIMON can:
The first flight of CIMON will be a technical demonstration and a test of acceptance, feasibility and efficiency of CIMON support. A crew questionnaire will be used to determine the performance and usefulness of AI and to identify possible countermeasures to both prevent stress and reduce expected monotony during long duration space missions.
Evaluation of CIMON will be conducted in the Columbus module on ISS with up to 3 crew performing at least one of the 3 testing scenarios during the mission. The crew will perform the scenarios during 3 inflight sessions. A short survey will be completed for each session.
Inflight familiarization with CIMON consists of an explanation of AI, it’s components, voice training, and an exercise focusing on its general operations. The crew will perform at least one of the thress scenarios provided at least once during the mission. The three scenarios are a 1) maintenance task 2) science experiment 3) motor skill training. CIMON will record video during each of the scenarios. This video data will be combined with the questionnaire responses to determine the usefulness of the AI. The data will also be used to validate the guidance and navigation movements of AI and the performance of the control software in microgravity.
This is an international experiment. NASA does not currently have an agreement with international space partners to archive their data in the LSDA