Case Study

Designing an AI crew for Interplanetary Exploration


The Australian Space Agency is a government-funded organization at the heart of Australia's space industry.

The agency exists to advance Australia’s position in the global space economy, ranging from international engagement, policy advice, and initiatives to ‘inspire’ the nation.

The Challenge

The Australian Space Agency understood the unique challenges for AI and robotics in space - challenges which Akin saw as an opportunity for significant innovation.

Space missions are highly complex, high compliance and a real test of physical and emotional human endurance.

An AI appropriate for space needs to be able to solve complex problems on their own, work alongside humans on high-compliance tasks, have empathy, and take on multiple roles.

From a hardware perspective, space-hardened chips also have reduced processing capacity and minimal data, so AI cannot rely on traditional approaches to AI such as brute-force learning.

They have to have dynamic adaptation to situations, and be very efficient in their use of data and compute resources.

How Akin Helped

Akin developed an AI crew for Space, funded by the Australian Federal Government Space Agency.

Akin developed advanced sovereign AI capability, and deployed the AI into an ambient AI habitat manager, a helper robot for complex task support, and a swarm of inspector robots. The AI and robots were designed and built from the ground up by Akin.

Akin also developed semi-autonomous AI agents capable of monitoring a space habitat and providing proactive support to human crew members in various tasks.

The agents will be designed to be useful as well as engaging while meeting the requirements for deployment in outer space, namely high reliability, low power consumption and offline operation.

“An AI assistant that’s able to intuit human emotion and respond with empathy could be exactly what’s needed, particularly on future missions to Mars and beyond. The idea is that it could anticipate the needs of the crew and intervene if their mental health seems at risk.”

Tom Soderstrom , NASA Jet Propulsion Lab IT CTO 2006-2020