2 Mar 2022

Australian start-ups join forces to test AI computing in space

Two emerging Australian space startups – AICRAFT and Antaris Space – have signed of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to test new Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) models in space, with the goal of developing and space-qualifying new computational capabilities for satellite-based applications.

Under the MoU the two start-ups, which are both members of the SmartSAT CRC-backed Aurora Space Cluster, will include an AICRAFT space-computing module as a part of the payload for Antaris’ three-year demonstrator mission launching to Low Earth Orbit in Q3 2022. This will provide an opportunity for Antaris Space and its collaborators to test out the module and demonstrate the ability for on-orbit autonomous satellite navigation and control.

AICRAFT will also be able to test various AI/ML models for Earth Observation data processing and communications management in the space environment. The objective will be to demonstrate five to ten times the processing speed compared with current state-of-the-art on-orbit ‘Space Edge’ processing solutions, and to do so for a comparable form factor and power consumption level. AICRAFTS module will be only locally developed device aboard Antaris’ Tech Demonstrator (TD) satellite.

Speaking at the signing of the MOU, co-founder of Antaris Inc, Shankar Sivaprakasam, said “We are excited about working with AICRAFT to space qualify their edge computing module and add it to the pool of resources for customers using the Antaris Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform for next-gen satellite systems. Our software-defined satellite platform is a means to broaden the space ecosystem by creating a trusted marketplace of qualified space-rated software and hardware components, a key goal for us.”

“We are thrilled to start our collaboration with Antaris and demonstrate our innovative AI edge computing module on orbit,” said Dr Tony Scoleri, co-founder and CEO of AICRAFT.

“This will include testing the execution of a large variety of AI models and input data formats (imagery, signals, Lidar point clouds) and we would like to thank Shankar and the whole Antaris founding team for the opportunity to accelerate our company’s entry into the global space marketplace. A special thank you also to Dr Tim Parsons, Aurora Space Cluster Chair, and the whole SmartSat CRC team, for helping to bring Antaris and AICRAFT together and supporting Australian space start-ups.”

Commenting on the partnership announcement, Aurora Space Cluster Board Chair, Dr Tim Parsons, said “This collaboration between Antaris and AICRAFT is exactly what the Aurora Space Cluster aimed to achieve within the Australian space start-up community – providing a framework for start-ups to grow together in commercial collaborations with one another, to win business, commercialise leap-frog R&D, lift TRL to space-qualified, and build world-class commercial capabilities.”

Antaris Space, a subsidiary of Antaris Inc, is a Sydney, NSW-based company offering a software-defined satellite platform to ease the design and build of satellites, the integration of payloads, and their operation and management on-orbit – all from a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform.

AICRAFT is a South Australian company offering scalable, high-performance, low-power edge computing sensors and systems with embedded artificial intelligence (AI) models.

The Aurora Space Cluster connects over 70 early and growth-stage start-up and scale-up companies with mentors, supporting partners, corporates and aerospace primes to create opportunities for commercial and R&D collaboration and growth. A member-focused organisation, Aurora is itself a start-up, created by a diverse founding board with support from its parent, SmartSat CRC.