Nasa is planning on utilising Amazon’s Alexa voice control assistant for its new deep-space rocket for the first time.
The space exploration company will also use Cisco’s Webex videoconferencing tool alongside Alexa.
The move comes as part of a trial to test whether the tools would be beneficial on future missions when astronauts may be flying to distant destinations including the Moon and Mars.
The flight, coined Artemis I is the first of a number of test missions planned in the program, which has been designed to send the first woman and person of colour to the surface of the Moon.
Artemis I is earmarked for for March and will be the inauguration flight of Nasa’s next-generation rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS) that has been developed by Boeing for the last ten years.
The SLS has been designed to launch astronauts and cargo into deep space, with the passengers riding in a new crew capsule called Orion which has been developed by Lockheed Martin.
Artemis I will launch an Orion capsule around the Moon on a flight which will last a week, with no passengers inside.
Lockheed Martin teamed up with Amazon to created a “human-machine interface,” which include a voice-activated Alexa speaker.
Employees on the ground will test the new interface from the group on this mission by interacting with the speaker as if space crew were manning the capsule.
“We envision a future in which astronauts could turn to an onboard artificial intelligence for information and for assistance and ultimately for companionship,” Amazon Alexa Everywhere vice president Aaron Rubenson said during a press briefing.
“You could easily imagine astronauts turning to this onboard AI to talk about the status of a subsystem or maybe controlling the lights in the cabin or asking for a particular camera view.”