Monday, 19 November 2018 13:13

CSIRO invests $35m in space tech, artificial intelligence Featured

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CSIRO invests $35m in space tech, artificial intelligence Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, is investing $35 million in frontier research in space technology and artificial intelligence.

The investment will include the development of advanced imaging of Earth from satellites, in addition to cutting-edge data science to support the growth of AI technology, and is part of CSIRO’s Future Science Platforms portfolio, aimed at dedicating research to new and emerging opportunities for Australia.

The CSIRO says it aims to help reinvent old industries and create new ones, as well as grow the capability of a new generation of researchers through specially-created student places in these "future" fields.

Space technology and AI join eight other areas of future science, including in the fields of health and energy.

By 2022, the CSIRO Future Science Platforms program would have invested $205 million since it was launched in 2016, and in this latest announcement space technology will receive $16 million to identify and develop the science to leapfrog traditional technologies and find new areas for Australian industry to work in.

Space technology will initially focus on advanced technologies for Earth observation, and then address challenges such as space object tracking, resource utilisation in space, and developing manufacturing and life support systems for missions to the Moon and Mars.

Under this latest allocation of funds, AI and machine learning will receive $19 million to target AI-driven solutions for areas including food security and quality, health and wellbeing, sustainable energy and resources, resilient and valuable environments, and Australian and regional security.

The primary research areas include platforms to improve prediction and understanding of complex data platforms to enable trustworthy inferences and risk-based decisions, and data systems to enable ethical, robust and scalable AI.

CSIRO chief executive Dr Larry Marshall said the CSIRO Future Science Platforms had an important role to play in inventing and securing Australia’s path to prosperity.

“Our Future Science Platforms aim to turn Australia’s challenges into opportunities where new science can break through seemingly impossible roadblocks to give Australia an unfair advantages on the world stage,” he said.

“Innovation needs deep collaboration, so our FSPs bring together this nation’s world-class expertise across all fields of science, technology, engineering and maths to deliver real solutions to real world problems.

“CSIRO is here to solve Australia’s greatest challenges through innovative science and technology – and to do that we have to invest in the big thinking and breakthrough research that will keep us ahead of the curve.”

CSIRO’s investment in Space Technology builds on the launch of CSIRO’s Space Roadmap for Australia and supports the newly formed Australian Space Agency’s goal of tripling the size of the domestic space sector to between $10 billion and $12 billion by 2030.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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