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Mission Control Space Services Inc. (Mission Control) is pleased to announce a partnership with Axiom Research Labs Private Limited (ARL) of India to deploy AI-enabled mission software on their lunar rover in advance of a commercial exploration mission to the Moon. The project is called Mission Control Intelligence (MCI): Enhancing the Autonomy of Commercial Rover Missions. “MCI is designed to meet the growing demand for AI-powered robotic missions to improve safety and productivity, and enable the future of low-cost autonomous space missions,” commented Vinita Marwaha Madill, the Project Manager at Mission Control.
“Canada is a recognized leader on the global stage in AI, space robotics and embedded systems, and planetary science. MCI leverages state-of-the-art proprietary technologies developed by Mission Control in these areas and will set a new standard for robotic autonomy.”
MCI is a suite of cutting-edge technologies that will enable mission operators to make key decisions in science and navigation operations faster and with more confidence, opening up new possibilities in exploration.
“Axiom Research Labs is excited to collaborate with Mission Control on this project. It brings together expertise in on-board computing with expertise in platform engineering, creating a perfect collaboration,” ARL said in a statement. “This collaboration enables the creation of a framework for facilitating and implementing bilateral science, technology and innovation cooperation. The development involves nimble teams located in India and Canada to create this first-of-its-kind technology development and integration. This collaboration forms the pathway for future missions to the Moon or Mars that can be undertaken by micro-rover class platforms.”
To enable geographically distributed teams to operate the rover in tests and spaceflight missions, Mission Control will also leverage another core technology suite: Mission Control Software (MCS), a cloud-based suite of mission operations software services for space exploration, autonomous systems and robotic applications. MCS has powered thousands of hours of robotic operations in several test campaigns, public demonstrations, and educational missions around the world.
Mission Control will integrate its MCI suite onto flight and ground systems developed by ARL, including their commercially available micro-rover, Ek Chotti si Asha (ECA). To test and validate how the MCI suite can benefit science operations with the ECA rover, Mission Control and ARL will host a series of tests in a high-fidelity Lunar analogue environment at Mission Control’s facility in downtown Ottawa. Software applications and novel autonomy capabilities developed through MCI will be independent of the rover platform, enabling Mission Control to integrate these technologies for future missions including a potential Canadian micro-rover mission. “Demonstrating how AI can enable safer and more efficient robotic operations will also showcase how Mission Control technology can be valuable for Canadarm3 and other deep space robotic missions” remarked Dr. Michele Faragalli, Chief Technology Officer at Mission Control.
This project is receiving funding support of up to $350,000 through the Canadian International Innovation Program (CIIP) 2019 call for proposals with India. CIIP is a funding program offered by Global Affairs Canada and is delivered in collaboration with the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP). Respectively, ARL’s contributions towards MCI are provided by the Department of Science & Technology (DST) of India in collaboration with Global Innovation and Technology Alliance (GITA).
“We’re very excited to offer MCI and enable the critical layer of Artificial Intelligence for robotic systems that will fly to the Moon and beyond,” said Ewan Reid, President & CEO of Mission Control. “Not only does this help Canada continue to be a key leader in AI and space robotics, but it will help inspire the next generation of Canadians to reach for the stars.”