Hard to compare to 2001’s HAL 9000: A Space Odyssey. Amazon Alexa will be the voice assistant for astronauts on the Artemis mission to the moon. Hopefully he doesn’t end up like HAL 9000, but remains his friendly self throughout the mission.
Amazon Alexa is on the moon
A voice assistant sounds very earthly, but Alexa will soon be part of a spaceship. He is on Orion which is currently traveling to the moon. You can ask the voice assistant all sorts of useful things while on the go Not the standard stuff you know Alexa for, but more specific deep space questions like how far are we from Earth and how fast are we actually going?
On-board Alexa is a bit different from the regular one, as it also works offline. He quickly answered the astronauts. Something that is sometimes criticized in the world. This is also necessary, because if you need information quickly, for example in an emergency, you definitely need that quick answer. The now-so-good offline Alexa won’t be rolling out to Earth anytime soon, but some of the technology used for the space version will be implemented in the world version of Alexa.
No Echo Dot
We’ve written about it before: Many of the technologies you use every day have their origins in technology. Even the smartphone you are reading this article on right now. So no wonder Amazon thinks: We’ll take care of that Alexa. Although the presence of a voice assistant in spaceships will probably have everything to do with good PR for Amazon. It’s interesting, by the way: Orion isn’t a spacecraft from Blue Origin, the space agency that sprung from the Amazon.
Orion’s Amazon Alexa isn’t an Echo Dot like the one pictured above: It’s a big box, because an Echo won’t survive launch, writes The Verge. Amazon Alexa is in a suite, including a 2020 Apple iPad, which features Cisco Webex video meetings. So at least he’s not alone (besides the fact that he’s currently blasting off in space with a dummy astronaut). It makes it a little less 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Not really in Orion
While Alexa happily travels with Orion and can tell you how fast things are going, there’s no integration with Orion’s systems. NASA didn’t want it, so it’s much less HAL 9000. We are examining what would happen if that were the case. Now to test this, Alexa can read data from Orion’s software, but it’s not like Alexa ‘has anything to say’ about Orion either.
At the moment, there are no voice assistants on board the spacecraft, besides many think they do through movies. Amazon would love to solve this, but it will be years before NASA fully allows it. After all, voice assistants in the world are already a challenge to use fully and correctly.
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