BrainChip Podcast: Robotics in Space discussion with ANT61 Founder Mikhail Asavkin

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07 May, 2024

BrainChip Podcast: Robotics in Space discussion with ANT61 Founder Mikhail Asavkin

In this episode, ANT61 Founder and CEO Mikhail Asavkin joins BrainChip CTO Dr. Tony Lewis to discuss the evolution of Space Technology and its impact on daily life.

Space exploration has captivated humanity for decades with its promise of adventure and scientific discovery. But venturing beyond our atmosphere comes with immense challenges. This is where a new wave of technology is poised to revolutionize the space industry: artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics. 

This episode of the BrainChip podcast is a conversation between BrainChip CTO Dr Tony Lewis and Mikhail Asavkin, founder of Australian space tech company ANT61. They talk about how AI and intelligent robots are no longer science fiction but the key to unlocking the future of space exploration. 

Reusable Rockets and the Democratization of Space

Over the past decade, we have witnessed a remarkable transformation propelled by innovation and the rise of private industry in the space sector. The ability to recover and relaunch rockets has dramatically reduced the cost of space access, opening the door for a new era of private space exploration companies. 

This democratization of space has spurred innovation and ignited a global race to push the boundaries of what's possible. Mikhail Asavkin, drawing from his extensive experience in space engineering, sheds light on this evolutionary journey and explains how companies like ANT61 are now able to focus their resources on cutting-edge technologies like AI and robotics, thanks to the more affordable launch options provided by reusable rockets. 

This shift has fundamentally changed the landscape of space exploration, making it a more accessible and dynamic field.

The Impact of AI on Space Exploration

Mikhail Asavkin and Dr Tony Lewis also discuss the transformative role of AI in space exploration. Here's why AI is the silent hero propelling us further into the cosmos:

  • Due to the speed of light, communicating with robots on the Moon or Mars in real time is impossible. This is where AI steps in. By enabling robots to make autonomous decisions based on sensor data and their surroundings, AI eliminates the need for constant human intervention from Earth.

  • Space exploration demands more than just following pre-programmed instructions. Robots must be able to perceive their environment, identify objects, and navigate complex situations. Advancements in AI, particularly image recognition and deep learning, allow robots to "see" and understand their surroundings, enabling them to perform intricate tasks and make critical decisions independently.

Neuromorphic Computing in Space

The limitations of traditional AI systems, particularly their high power consumption, pose a significant challenge for space exploration. Here's where neuromorphic computing enables new ways of exploring space. 

Inspired by the structure and function of the human brain, neuromorphic chips are designed to process information similarly. This translates to a dramatic reduction in power consumption compared to traditional AI hardware like GPUs (Graphics Processing Units). For spacefaring robots, this is a game-changer.

Neuromorphic technology offers a multitude of benefits for space AI:

  • Neuromorphic chips enable this dream by requiring significantly less power to perform complex tasks like object detection and real-time decision-making.

  • Neuromorphic chips excel at real-time processing, allowing robots to make critical decisions without delay. This is essential for tasks like navigating hazardous terrain or performing delicate scientific operations.

Training AI on the Go

Traditionally, training AI models involves massive datasets downloaded from Earth and meticulously labeled by humans – a time-consuming and impractical process in the vast expanse of space.

Neuromorphic computers, with their ability to learn and adapt in real time, make this possible. The AI model can continuously improve its capabilities and decision-making abilities by processing sensor data and surroundings. By training on-site, the AI model can adapt to specific situations and environments, making its tasks more robust and efficient.

However, the podcast also discusses a significant challenge that remains: ensuring the safety and well-being of human explorers venturing into the unknown. This necessitates further advancements in AI, particularly in areas like risk assessment, anomaly detection, and real-time decision-making.

Conclusion: New Era in Space Exploration

From enabling autonomous robots to construct lunar habitats to empowering AI models to learn and adapt on the fly, these technologies are revolutionizing how we venture beyond our planet. As we look towards a future where humanity establishes a presence on other celestial bodies, AI and robotics will be our indispensable companions.

Listen to the full podcast here.