AIX is a satellite as-a-service platform providing on-demand, in-orbit data processing resources to turn raw data into actionable knowledge.
Space mission’s scenario is rapidly evolving. Several elements are contributing to this evolution, but maybe three can be identified as key points: the lowering of access barriers, the NewSpace approach and the huge, distributed data availability.
Customers are focused on their core business process. Users need the right information, at the right time, in the right place. This implements the paradigm we use to define SpaceStream, where many steps of the Earth Observation value chain are shifted from ground to space to transform sensed data into actionable knowledge. This evolving scenario is also raising the need for new operational concepts that have to be able to implement novel technologies, novel approaches at mission design that comply with the shortening of the development cycles.
AIX answers to these needs. It will make available satellite assets as-a-service, by means of EO applications based on on-board Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain technologies.
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The AIX project will implement a testbed for the exploitation of state-of-art technologies in the space environment according to these emerging needs. It explicitly targets technologies impacting reactivity, responsiveness and latency like Artificial Intelligence (Machine Learning and Convolutional Neural Networks) with dedicated processing units (VPU and array processors) and Blockchain.
AIX will provide a hybrid edge ecosystem based on:
- An orbiting platform, based on D-Orbit’s ION Carrier, providing hosted payloads and ready-to-deploy CubeSats;
- A software framework infrastructure (implementing services and an abstraction layer towards sensors and on-board resources);
- A catalogue of on-board resources (HW/SW components and also complete CubeSats in standard configurations);
- An “app-store” catalogue of processing functions and applications algorithms based on AI;
- On-board service configuration;
- CubeSats deployment on-demand;
- Support service to custom design needs;
- Ground Segment support services for operations.
The services will allow the investigation of innovative approaches in planning, tasking, data processing and communications.
The AIX project will implement the testbed leveraging assets available to the consortium members: D-ORBIT’s orbiting ION Carrier today provides CubeSats deployment as a service. AIX will add dedicated “hosted payloads” on-board the Carrier. These additional payloads provide services operating directly on the Carrier S/C. Payloads include both sensing payloads and processing ones. Finally, the Carrier will be able to embark also “spare” CubeSats platforms, ready to be configured, deployed, and to provide services autonomously.
AIX will bring a new concept of satellite as-a-service to the market. It will make available, on-demand, in-orbit resources: data and, above all, actionable information. Users can ask to exploit the desired custom set of components, configuring their own acquisition/ processing workflow and their own system’s configuration.
- It is going to support AI-experienced users in testing their algorithms and techniques into a real Earth Observation case, with resources and payloads available on-demand
- It is going to ease developers in on-board software implementation and re-use.
In conclusion, it will enable customer-driven capabilities, such as need-focused data gathering, reducing costs and barriers to access space.
Main innovations AIX will bring are:
- A technological framework composed of hardware, software, and services, providing a set of basic and advanced basic building blocks that Artificial Intelligence applications can be built upon: a testbed for AI.
- An infrastructure of space services on-demand, composed of in-orbit and ground facilities, based on foundation Blockchain’s technologies;
- A suite of tools supporting the definition of the forthcoming commercial evolution of space, fostered by the “NewSpace Economy”;
- On-the-fly configurable services able to monitor areas and topics of interest, detect changes and raise alarms in response to specific data processing supported by the AI-based algorithms and tools (included in the framework).
AIX is implemented by a consortium composed by Planetek, D-Orbit, and AIKO that will complement and add value to the companies’ existing services/ products.
AIX-based services will be tested and deployed using D-Orbit's ION platform, AIKO's MiRAGE algorithms, and Planetek’s SPACEDGE™ Earth Observation service infrastructure for futureEO now.