During the summer of 2019/2020 Australia faced the most serious national crisis from bushfires possibly in its recorded history. The climate change induced drought created the most hazardous conditions for bushfires which were realised in five states and the ACT with devastating loss of life, property, environment and economic output.
As a means to explore innovative options and solutions to managing and responding to future challenges of this type, SmartSat is looking to develop and integrate an intelligent payload, that will be deployed at stratospheric altitudes (80 kft or 24km), to support Emergency Services (e.g. bushfire support), as well as Maritime Operations and Border and Infrastructure Security. The aim is to demonstrate early stage implementation of technology solutions that improve the management of natural disaster preparation, response or recovery, in Australia or our near region.
It is hoped that proposals arising from the challenge will serve as a stepping-stone to deploying such a payload in space.
Ideas to address natural disaster, including fires, floods, cyclones, earthquakes and other environmental disasters are welcome. This might be through autonomously understanding the operating environment through machine analysis of sensor data, providing navigation or attitude control based on cognition of the operating environment (e.g. following a fire front) or provide information connectivity to improve resilience of communications system used by communities or emergency services.
An example based on imaging sensors is shown in the figure below to stimulate thought. It shows a space image of the bushfires from Sentinal 2A and a close up of representation of the view from 8000m (80,000ft) typical of the operating altitude of a stratospheric balloon.
Considerations for future opportunities
Consideration should be given to the potential opportunity to demonstrate the payload on a stratospheric balloon, or constellation of balloons, prior to the 2020/21 bushfire season. The long term plan is to demonstrate similar capabilities in space. Therefore, thought should be given to product evolution beyond the stratosphere.
SmartSat intends to standardise the proposed solutions on a single platform for this challenge.
It is a strong preference that the development platform for Phase 1 of this program is the Nvidia Jetson Nano. This has been chosen as it is attracting wide-spread utilisation, including the availability of a space qualified version. This is also the entry point for a family of products that scale to TFLOPS performance, it has a broad on-line user community, and it has good support for implementation of AI algorithms on CUDA cores.
More information can be found here: Nvidia Jetson Nano / Core Electronics Jetson Nano