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Australian in-orbit satellite demonstration of AI

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The UNSW Canberra Space M2 cubesat mission has taken a significant step on a path to developing intelligent, networked satellite constellation technologies.

Last week the satellite successfully performed on-board artificial intelligence inferencing by correctly recognising hand-written characters on pre-loaded images.

The experiment, an Australian first in space, tested the functionality of the AI environment and pipeline using the NVIDIA Jetson TX2 edge-computer on one of the two M2 satellites.

According to the director of the UNSW Canberra Space, Russell Boyce: “This is a necessary step before separating the two spacecraft which are currently joined from each other (pictured) and, as the mission unfolds, coupling our AI algorithms and on-board sensors to perform tasks such as cloud detection and maritime surveillance.”

The M2 CubeSat is the third of three satellites developed by engineers and researchers at UNSW Canberra Space, supported by funding from the Royal Australian Air Force.

This latest mission follows the successful launch and mission operations of the M2 Pathfinder CubeSat last year.

The NVIDIA Jetson TX2 edge-computer is an embedded AI computing device.

Picture: UNSW Canberra Space

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