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Astrobee Free-Flying Robot and the Crew Interactive Mobile Companion Meet Aboard the International Space Station
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Astrobee Free-Flying Robot and the Crew Interactive Mobile Companion Meet Aboard the International Space Station

After having been operating in separate areas over the last two years, the Astrobee and Crew Interactive MObile companioN (Project CIMON) free-flying robots met for a photo shoot aboard the International Space Station (ISS). While both sets of robots assist astronauts, enable research, and support ISS operations, both come from different countries.

BACKGROUND: The Astrobees were commissioned by NASA’s Game Changing Development program and were designed and built at Ames Research Center. The Astrobees on ISS are currently three color-coded cube-shaped robots that can operate autonomously or by way of remote control, either by operators onboard ISS or on the ground. Astrobee provides a flexible platform for research on zero-gravity free-flying robotics, with the ability to carry a wide variety of future research payloads and guest science software. They were also designed to perform a number of Intra-Vehicular Activities (IVAs), including interior environmental surveys (e.g., sound level measurement), inventory, and mobile camera work. The blue-colored Astrobee Bumble arrived onboard ISS in 2019, while the yellow-colored Honey and green-colored Queen followed shortly after.

Project CIMON was funded by DLR, the German Space Agency, and built by Airbus and IBM. CIMON is designed as a mobile computer, database, and camera to support research hands-free via voice control, and is the first artificially intelligent assistant on ISS. Project CIMON is also looking at using their mobile assistants to help reduce stress on the astronauts from isolation and group dynamics by way of providing social assistance. CIMON arrived on ISS in 2018.

NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: The Astrobee Facility project is funded by the ISS program’s Research Integration Office.

TEAM: The Astrobee team is composed of over 30 researchers, engineers, and technicians from the Intelligent Systems Division and the Engineering Directorate at NASA Ames Research Center and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

POINT OF CONTACT: Jose Benavides, jose.v.benavides@nasa.gov

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