Oxford is at the forefront of technologies including photonics and AI that are transforming the space sector, as well as in business innovation to help space agencies and companies to adapt to the new business environment.
The space sector is undergoing a transformation through advances in technology, for example through the miniaturisation of satellites leading to significant reductions in manufacturing and launch costs. Enhancements in compute and cloud capabilities are also transforming data processing, enabling the application of AI to satellite data to support complex operations and enhance decision-making by end-users (e.g. in forestry, disaster management, urban planning). Oxford is at the forefront of technologies including photonics and AI that are transforming the sector, as well as in business innovation to help space agencies and companies to adapt to the new business environment. This is why the European Space Agency has approached Oxford to develop a 1:1 partnership, initially in these three areas, to help them access our capabilities. An ESA_LAB@Oxford was established in Spring 2020. In AI, Oxford researchers have been working with ESA, NASA and tech and space companies to prototype new AI systems for improving operations and decision-making, with further interest from domain-specific academics (e.g. in forestry, earthquakes, volcanoes). The opportunity is for Oxford, working with these partners, to establish an AI for Space Institute that would develop pathways from initial prototypes through further research, translation and on to deployment, also collaborating with Europe’s largest space cluster, based at Harwell. An Institute in the order of £100m in funding is envisaged. No other Institute of this kind currently exists globally; an opportunity for Oxford to be at the cutting edge. Initial funding of £5-10m from would develop a runway for this institute.