It’s an ISS meet-cute! Two robots working aboard the International Space Station finally met after two years of working in different parts of the station. NASA shared an image of an Astrobee robot and a Project CIMON (Crew Interactive MObile companioN) robot meeting for the first time. While science fiction movies make it clear that robots uniting in space is a giant red flag, this image from the ISS is very charming.
NASA’s Ames Research Center shared the delightfully robotic image in a post outlining the robots’ roles aboard the ISS. The Astrobee pictured (on the right) is one of three identical robots launched to the ISS by NASA. The only difference between the three is the color of their shell. Bumble, pictured above in blue, launched in 2019. The other two robots on Team Astrobee are also named after bees. Honey has a yellow shell and Queen has a green one. Their role aboard the ISS is to perform general assistance tasks like “taking inventory or monitoring the environment aboard the station.”
The Project CIMON, meanwhile, is a longtime ISS resident. The free-flying robot first launched to the space station back in 2018. Hailing from the German Space Agency, it’s the ISS’s first artificial intelligent assistant. True to its title, Project CIMON is “a hands-free database, computer, and camera to support research.” But it also has another important task. The teams monitoring the robot are also examining how to use AI for social purposes. The astronauts aboard the ISS find incredible ways to pass the time. But it must be isolating being away from their friends and family. Not to mention their general confinement to the expansive research station. Hopefully, Project CIMON and its technology can help reduce the stress astronauts face.
While the robots couldn’t look more distinct from one another, they both play vital roles in the ISS’s day-to-day operations. In the post, NASA wrote, “These free-floating helpers come from different countries and have unique functions, but they share a mission to assist astronauts, support station operations, and enable research that will take humans to the Moon and on to Mars.”
Both robots have pretty vital roles on the ISS. But we hope this isn’t their first and last hang session. In fact, get the whole Team Astrobee crew and Project CIMON together for a little robot party. Nothing could go wrong there.