NASA wants to take Alexa to space and make the spacecraft as smart as home

In many science fiction movies, voice assistants are indispensable to spaceships. Amazon's intelligent voice assistant Alexa is inspired by "Star Trek". Now, Alexa is really going to go to heaven like its "idol".

Sending Alexa into the Orion spacecraft is part of NASA’s new moon landing program "Artemis I" and is promoted by Amazon and Lockheed Martin.

Although Artemis I is not manned, it will help NASA test future technologies for manned missions.

▲Technical demonstration. Picture from: Amazon

Alexa is one of them, exploring how "environmental intelligence" can help astronauts perform missions.

To this end, Lockheed Martin designed custom space-grade hardware with built-in Alexa to ensure that the device can withstand the strong impact of launching and passing through the Van Allen radiation belt.

"Pro Dad" Amazon is responsible for providing acoustics and audio processing software, adjusting the algorithm to solve the noise and reverberation interference in the cabin, so as to support Alexa's far-field voice interaction.

▲ Alexa Echo display. Picture from: Amazon

Alexa is also equipped with Amazon's local voice control technology, allowing it to operate in areas with limited or unreachable connections.

On the earth, Alexa has functions such as voice interaction, playing music, controlling smart devices, and providing real-time information. What exactly does it do on the spacecraft?

First, Alexa is responsible for accessing real-time telemetry data and answering thousands of specific questions on the spacecraft, such as "Alexa, how fast is the spacecraft" or "Alexa, what is the temperature in the cabin".

Secondly, Alexa can meet the requirements of connected equipment such as in-cabin lighting. This work is also meaningful to the residents of the earth and helps engineers learn how to serve customers in the harsh Internet environment.

▲ Deep Space Network. Picture from: NASA

Furthermore, using NASA's deep space network , Alexa will retrieve information from the Earth for astronauts, helping them to keep in touch with their homes during long-term missions. From news briefings to sports scores, all kinds of truly "down-to-earth" information are available. satisfy.

It is worth mentioning that, combined with multiple technologies and local processing on the spacecraft, astronauts can bypass the delay in sending messages between the moon and the ground, and can almost immediately access specific information and functions.

All in all, Alexa's original intention is to make the life of astronauts simpler and more efficient, especially when they are helpless or distracted during missions, as it does on Earth.

However, if you are too involved with spacecraft equipment, it is also reminiscent of the terrible side of artificial intelligence. The most typical example is the HAL 9000 of "2001 A Space Odyssey". It is a strong artificial intelligence supercomputer with soft sound and soft sound. The red "eyes" were confused during the space flight and calmly killed the four crew members.

▲ "2001 A Space Odyssey". Picture from: Douban

Artemis I is an unmanned mission. In order to simulate future manned programs, Amazon and several partners organized a virtual crew experience at NASA Johnson Space Center. Audio and video clips from the Orion spacecraft will be transmitted back to Earth.

In addition to allowing Alexa to participate in a real journey around the moon, Amazon also hopes to allow more students, teachers and families to participate in space exploration and inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers and astronauts.

▲ Picture from: Amazon

On the one hand, on various smart devices that support Alexa, Amazon will add interactive experiences related to Artemis I, from which users will obtain Orion spacecraft telemetry data, mission videos and images, key node reminders, etc.

One of the voice commands is "Alexa, take me to the moon."

▲ Picture from: Amazon

On the other hand, Amazon is creating a new Amazon Future Engineer Program called "Alexa for Astronauts", which will provide real-time virtual tours of the Johnson Space Center and STEM courses supported by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Aaron Rubenson, vice president of Amazon Alexa Everywhere, said in a statement:

Star Trek gave us the initial inspiration for Alexa. It is very exciting to see our vision of environmental intelligence realized on the Orion spacecraft, and it also gives birth to humility.
We are proud to work with Lockheed Martin to push the limits of voice technology and artificial intelligence. We also hope that Alexa will help inspire future scientists, astronauts and engineers who will define the next era of space exploration.

▲ Reference materials:
https://www.aboutamazon.com/news/devices/alexa-take-me-to-the-moon

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