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SoundSee blasts off

Space-bound module from Bosch will experiment with AI and audio analytics to enhance monitoring on the ISS

  • SoundSee will analyze sounds on the International Space Station to gauge system health
  • The microphone- and AI-equipped module will be attached to NASA’s flying Astrobee robot
  • SoundSee marks Bosch’s first deployment of technology to the space station
Tim Wieland

Tim Wieland >


PITTSBURGH, October 17, 2019 – Bosch’s unique SoundSee technology is prepared for lift-off. The lunchbox-sized SoundSee module, which uses microphones and machine learning to analyze audio data, is scheduled to make its maiden voyage to the International Space Station (ISS) no earlier than Nov. 2.

Bosch partnered with Astrobotic Technology Inc. to develop SoundSee as part of a research collaboration with NASA to send experimental sensor technology to the International Space Station (ISS). Astrobotic, which specializes in space robotics, tested and prepared SoundSee for launch. SoundSee will hitch a ride to the ISS on Northrup Grumman’s CRS-12 resupply mission. When CRS-12 docks with the ISS several days after the launch, SoundSee will get a more-permanent ride on NASA’s Astrobee, a flying autonomous robot that floats through the ISS to provide assistance to astronauts.

Astrobee’s aerial mobility will help SoundSee accomplish its core mission: to perform research investigation involving AI-driven analytics on audio data from ISS systems and equipment with the goal of developing fully-autonomous sensing capabilities to gauge system performance and predict maintenance needs.

Bringing predictive audio analytics to space

After capturing ambient noise through built-in microphones, SoundSee will use artificial intelligence (AI) to extract operational characteristics of the machines and components from their emitted audio patterns in order to spot potential anomalies. Audio data captured by SoundSee will be delivered to Bosch Research in Pittsburgh, where the Bosch team has created a ground control center for the SoundSee mission.

“The ground control center will help coordinate all of SoundSee’s research once it is in orbit,” explained Samarjit Das, principal researcher and SoundSee project lead at Bosch in North America. “The unique aspect of this mission is that we are working with free-flying microphones, and we also have motion data from Astrobee. Fusing audio data with motion data will help us answer some very interesting research questions.”

SoundSee’s technology has several potential benefits to the astronauts on the ISS. The sound levels inside the ISS are kept below 60 decibels to ensure crew health and well-being. Traditionally, astronauts must periodically conduct manual sound level measurements at various location points that last for up to two hours, a tedious process. SoundSee aims to automate these sound tests with ease, thanks to its AI-powered acoustic analytics technology.

SoundSee will also monitor the health of critical systems on the ISS, including the space station’s environmental control and life-support systems. These complex electromechanical systems must be regularly checked by ISS astronauts. SoundSee will investigate the efficacy of its novel audio AI capabilities towards automating this process as well, making the task far less time-consuming for the astronauts.

How Bosch prepared SoundSee for its journey

At Bosch Research and Astrobotic, both in Pittsburgh, the SoundSee team tested and refined the technology in a one-of-a-kind acoustic chamber. The chamber’s layout matches that of the ISS module that Astrobee and SoundSee will be flying within. In the testing facility, the Bosch Research team mimicked the movements and trajectory of Astrobee using a ground-based robot.

While SoundSee technology will begin its career on the ISS, space will not be the technology’s only working environment. SoundSee’s audio analytics will soon be used in more down-to-earth applications, such as monitoring automotive performance and manufacturing equipment simply by listening.

“With this project, we have the privilege of using NASA’s infrastructure to do incredible research in space,” Das explained. “However, there are many interesting commercial applications that SoundSee can be used for on the ground. With AI and deep learning, we are exploring the promise of analyzing machine performance by putting a microphone next to the machine. Audio can tell surprising stories about a machine’s internal health.”

A milestone project for Bosch Research in North America

SoundSee marks Bosch’s first deployment of technology to the space station, and the module’s journey to the ISS will occur during the 20th anniversary of the company’s Research activities in North America. Bosch Research in Silicon Valley and Pittsburgh started operations in 1999. The Pittsburgh site, home of the SoundSee team, moved to a new building in 2016 and the Silicon Valley location re-located from Palo Alto to Sunnyvale when Bosch opened a new facility in 2018.

The Research teams in North America are part of Bosch’s global efforts to shape technology of the future. The teams in North America have played a key role in the development of technology including artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, human-machine interaction, automated driving systems, robotics, advanced circuits and sensors. To learn more visit

Having established a regional presence in 1906 in North America, the Bosch Group employs 34,700 associates in more than 100 locations, as of December 31, 2020. According to preliminary figures, Bosch generated consolidated sales of $13.1 billion in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. For more information, visit, and

The Bosch Group is a leading global supplier of technology and services. It employs roughly 394,500 associates worldwide (as of December 31, 2020). According to preliminary figures, the company generated sales of $87.1 billion in 2020. Its operations are divided into four business sectors: Mobility Solutions, Industrial Technology, Consumer Goods, and Energy and Building Technology. As a leading IoT provider, Bosch offers innovative solutions for smart homes, Industry 4.0, and connected mobility. Bosch is pursuing a vision of mobility that is sustainable, safe, and exciting. It uses its expertise in sensor technology, software, and services, as well as its own IoT cloud, to offer its customers connected, cross-domain solutions from a single source. The Bosch Group’s strategic objective is to facilitate connected living with products and solutions that either contain artificial intelligence (AI) or have been developed or manufactured with its help. Bosch improves quality of life worldwide with products and services that are innovative and spark enthusiasm. In short, Bosch creates technology that is “Invented for life.” The Bosch Group comprises Robert Bosch GmbH and its roughly 440 subsidiary and regional companies in 60 countries. Including sales and service partners, Bosch’s global manufacturing, engineering, and sales network covers nearly every country in the world. The basis for the company’s future growth is its innovative strength. At 126 locations across the globe, Bosch employs some 73,000 associates in research and development, as well as roughly 30,000 software engineers.

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