How Artificial Intelligence is Being Used in the Space Industry

Artificial Intelligence and Robotics are changing many industries particulary for tasks which may be too dull, dirty or dangerous for humans to do. This isn’t just limited on ground, in fact, a while back, we teamed up with  the ESA’s European Space Research and Technology Centre to look at the challenges of using a tele-operated robot hand end-effector in a space setting. A few years on, ESA lets us know exactly how emerging technologies are impacting various sectors including the space industry.

What Makes AI So Important?

Artificial intelligence gives computers the ability to learn; displaying intellectual processes typically associated with people, such as ‘thinking’ for themselves.

This isn’t an easy thing to achieve however and often involves machine learning. The Shadow Robot Company have recently worked with OpenAI, founded by business tycoons, Elon Musk and Sam Altman to advance research within AI and machine learning using the Shadow Dexterous Hand. Shadow’s hardware has algorithms tracking previous actions or behaviour and providing optimized decisions using trial-and-error principle which is perfect for reinforcement learning and AI.

The benefit of Robots with AI include the ability to perform certain tasks more dexterously and efficiently than humans. This is useful in sectors such as manufacturing, as technology can be used to reduce cost and increase output. The technology can help ensure the industry doesn’t lag behind where it should be.

Another benefit is safety. Certain necessary tasks are dangerous for people to carry out, such as deep sea diving. The conditions here are extremely hazardous. Now, robots are being deployed to carry out the work that needs doing, such as research or underwater repairs.

This minimises risk and ensures the job will be done properly.

The best part – we’ve only just scratched the surface of what this technology can do and how far it can go! For example, Shadow has collaborated with leading tech companies to create the first telerobot hand to successfully transmit touch across the Atlantic. The sense of touch is a critical component of virtually every interaction and having haptic feedback allows unprecedented precision for transforming work within risky environments such as nuclear decommissioning.

Will Robots Take Our Jobs?

When people talk about robots, many are worried that they’ll take our jobs or replace us in the workplace. However, this isn’t in fact the case.

Our jobs will adapt to include robots and artificial intelligence, improving the way we work. This also presents many exciting business opportunities for innovators and companies to take advantage of.

The space sector is just one feeling the benefits of this.


Where Do Artificial Intelligence and Space Come Together?

Technology is bringing us closer and closer to the stars – with AI leading the way.

This has numerous benefits for us in our daily lives. Space data is extremely valuable for improving many areas, from transport to navigation.

Robots with artificial intelligence are helping us collect and process this essential data to help utilise it in the necessary areas.


Where are We Using AI in the Space Industry?

Earth Observation

Robots with AI are being deployed to monitor certain areas, such as hazardous environments.

Satellites can observe them from above, saving people from having to enter unsafe or risky places. Any data can then be collected and fed back to robots with artificial intelligence, who can process it and decide on a course of action.

Urban Planning

Urban planning is another area where space technology is crucial. Satellites can be deployed to monitor them; detecting ways to improve and optimise routes, minimising traffic. Artificial intelligence can then map out the best ways to minimise traffic and congestion.

These satellites can also collect data on the presence of human activity, helping us to better understand how we use our built environment.

In short: robots with AI are helping us to get more out of our surroundings.


Autonomous Navigation

Autonomous satellites can navigate particular places of interest, such as areas of deforestation, much more quickly and efficiently than humans.

Planetary Exploration

Robotic technology is allowing us to observe and explore different planets.

On-ground robots collect images that are then sent back to earth, however the sheer volume of data can be difficult to process. What’s more, a large percentage of it is redundant.

However, AI is now being utilised to help process the data that’s collected, in a much quicker and more efficient way than if people were doing it.


What’s Next?

Robots and AI are helping propel the space sector forwards – which means the future is an exciting one!