The new frontier of artificial intelligence for Earth observation. Leonardo, Telespazio and e-GEOS sign agreement with ESA’s Φ-lab

The collaboration between Leonardo, Telespazio (joint venture Leonardo 67%, Thales 33%) and e-GEOS (joint venture Telespazio 80%, Italian Space Agency 20%) and Φ-lab, the European Space Agency (ESA) research center dedicated to study of new technologies to accelerate Earth observation research strengthening Europe’s leadership in space.

Leonardo, as part of the signed letter of intent, will make use of the Leonardo Lab “Space Technologies” research structure in Rome – and more generally of the Leonardo Labs network – which, together with ESA’s Φ-lab, will contribute to studies on optimizing the use of space data for Earth observation. After exploring areas of common interest, ESA Φ-lab and Space Technologies Leonardo Lab, with the Leonardo Labs network, will work together on projects that maximize the impact in the space sector of transformative technologies such as artificial intelligence, high-performance computing (HPC ), quantum computing, big data and machine learning.

Projects covered by the joint collaboration include studies on neuromorphic networks, new artificial intelligence architectures that “mimic” the human brain and its neural networks to outperform traditional deep learning by increasing the efficiency and speed of information processing. AI algorithms are usually resource-intensive in terms of data, memory, energy and computing power, so economical learning technologies and ordinary neural differential equations will also be explored in order to develop new AI methods capable of using less data and computing resources. On-board / Edge AI is a rapidly emerging field as a complement to cloud computing, and joint research will focus on adding AI processors to satellite payloads and thereby enabling the development of low-power, high-performance computing techniques. Areas related to quantum computing will also be explored to assess how this technology can be applied to classification, feature extraction, anomaly detection, cluster analysis, in images from Earth observation satellites. Another central research topic concerns so-called explainable / trustworthy AI, or the need to increase trust in models machine learning leveraging predictability, robustness, and explanation, this is how AI has come to fruition.

“The mission of ɸ-lab at ESRIN-ESA is to understand how to overcome the current limits of Earth observation (OT), how OT is conceived, designed and implemented. Adds Simonetta Cheli, Director of ESA’s Earth Observation Programs and Head of ESRIN. The ultimate goal is to strengthen the innovation component of this sector in order to strengthen Europe’s global competitiveness both from a scientific and commercial point of view. When we 2 started interacting with what is now Leonardo Labs, we immediately recognized the potential synergies and complementarities that could have contributed significantly to this vision. We are very pleased to have strengthened our relationship with these important industry partners through a collaboration that focuses on topics that we definitely see in the future of earth sensing.”.

“Leonardo Group is proud of a consolidated relationship with ESA, which is further strengthened by the agreement signed with Φ-lab”. Emphasizes Franco Ongaro, Leonardo’s Chief Technology and Innovation Officer “The agreement with ESA will allow us to bring together our skills in areas such as artificial intelligence, big data and quantum computing, combined with the computing capabilities of Leonardo’s HPC infrastructure, davinci-1, to increase applications of innovative methodologies in earth observation and in the wider spatial context. The agreement is an expression of the company’s vision aimed at strengthening the research activities carried out through the Leonardo Labs network – the company’s network of laboratories oriented towards the digital sphere – and the consolidation of the open innovation activities that represent, both, decisive factors development and competitiveness”.

“Earth’s future is increasingly linked to Space. Enhancing the ability to analyse, process and enhance data from observational satellites is fundamental to environmental sustainability, to improving and protecting life on our planet, and to offering significant opportunities in the Space Economy.” said Luigi Pasquali, coordinator of Leonardo’s space activities and CEO of Telespazio. “The collaboration between Leonardo Labs and ESA’s F-lab will accelerate the development of new solutions in this area, leveraging innovative infrastructure and experts from the European Space Agency and Leonardo, Telespazio and e-GEOS. An interdisciplinary team, with skills ranging from engineering and computer science applied to the management of complex systems such as satellites and drone fleets, to mathematics and physics for the analysis of acquired data and the development of applications.”

Leave a Comment