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Intel is providing the smarts for the first satellite with local AI processing on board – TechCrunch

Intel detailed immediately its contribution to PhiSat-1, a brand new tiny small satellite tv for pc that was launched into sun-synchronous orbit on September 2. PhiSat-1 has a brand new type of hyperspectral-thermal digital camera on board, and likewise features a Movidius Myriad 2 Imaginative and prescient Processing Unit. That VPU is present in various client gadgets on Earth, however that is its first journey to area – and the primary time it’ll be dealing with massive quantities of native knowledge, saving researchers again on Earth valuable time and satellite tv for pc downlink bandwidth.

Particularly, the AI on board the PhiSat-1 might be dealing with automated identification of cloud cowl – photos the place the Earth is obscured when it comes to what the scientists learning the info truly wish to see. Eliminating these photos earlier than they’re even transmitted implies that the satellite tv for pc can truly notice a bandwidth financial savings of as much as 30%, which implies extra helpful knowledge is transmitted to Earth when it’s in vary of floor stations for transmission.

The AI software program that runs on the Intel Myriad 2 on PhiSat-1 was created by startup Ubotica, which labored with the {hardware} maker behind the hyperspectral digital camera. It additionally needed to be tuned to compensate for the surplus publicity to radiation, although a bit surprisingly testing at CERN discovered that the {hardware} itself didn’t must be modified with a view to carry out inside the requirements required for its mission.

Computing on the edge takes on an entire new which means when utilized to satellites on orbit, nevertheless it’s undoubtedly a spot the place native AI makes a ton of sense. All the identical causes that corporations search to deal with knowledge processing and analytics on the web site of sensors hear on Earth additionally apply in area – however magnified exponentially when it comes to issues like community inaccessibility and high quality of connections, so anticipate to see much more of this.

PhiSat-1 was launched in September as a part of Arianspace’s first rideshare demonstration mission, which it goals to make use of to indicate off its capability to supply launch companies to smaller startups for smaller payloads at decrease prices.

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Darrell Etherington