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First AI Powered Satellite is Fighting Clouds

Image credit: ©pixabay

An AI satellite was launched in French Guiana for the first time in history back in September 2nd.

Named PhySat-1, located in Earth’s orbit about 328 miles above us soaring at over 17,000 mph. its job is to monitor polar ice and soil moisture through hyperspectral-thermal imaging as well as test inter-satellite communication systems.

At its core is an AI system developed by Ubotica and powered by Intel’s Myriad 2 VPU, which is the same chip inside many cameras and Leap’s AR goggles as well as a $99 selfie drone. One of its task, is to filter images of clouds that impede the analysis of data.

At any given moment, clouds are covering about two thirds of the earth’s surface which can greatly disrupt the system’s analysis.

The advantage of the new PhiSat-1 onboard processing power is to cut the bandwidth by around 30% which can help the scientists on the ground greatly.

Another advantage of the new satellite is reduced latency and increase autonomy. It is capable to quickly detecting fires and notifying the authorities of the exact location of the blaze. And it can even help Martian rovers avoid accidents with craters with even communication with Earth.

It is reported that rovers in Mars have a range of 100 meters per day, but they are limited to only 1 or 2 meters due to the relay of imaging information to and from Earth.

Obviously, increasing the moving speed 10 or 20 times will be hugely beneficial for science.

Next steps for AI

PhiSat-1 is now in commission phase as its all system’s element are being tested. The team has already got some results back.

After the commissioning phase is over, an operational phase will begin which will take a full year to complete; it will be targeting many locations on Earth and capturing, downlinking and processing the relevant data.

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