Thales Australia and Western Sydney University win research funding to trial Neuromorphic sensors for space
Thales Australia, in partnership with the International Centre for Neuromorphic Systems at the Western Sydney University (WSU ICNS), has received grant funding from the Australian Government’s Moon to Mars initiative to help develop new Australian technologies for potential use on NASA’s Moon to Mars mission.
Thales Australia and the WSU ICNS, in collaboration with Thales’s subsidiary and international Joint Venture, Thales Alenia Space, will use the grant to leverage the European Robotic Orbital Support Services (EROSS+) program1, to integrate and test the Neuromorphic Event Based Vision Sensor (EBVS) capability with Thales’s Spacecraft and Planetary Imaging by Camera Model (SPICAM), to examine the feasibility of neuromorphic sensors for potential application in complex in-orbit processes including spacecraft docking, refueling and payload transfer or replacement.
The project will focus on the performance gains achieved using Event Based Vision Sensor technology over existing sensors in support of orbital support service activities in high contrast visual environments. It will also determine performance gains for combined use of EBVS and existing sensors through sensor fusion.
The project supports the commitments made by Thales Australia’s Strategic Statement of Intent signed with the Australian Space Agency in December 2019, and is indicative of potential future export opportunities available to Australian businesses and research institutions through Thales’s global supply chain.
“Thales Australia is no stranger to the creation of sovereign capabilities in Australia. We have a long history of developing new and high-quality capabilities in partnership with local Research Institutions and our SME supply partners with many now exporting around the world.
We are proud to be working with Western Sydney University’s neuromorphic laboratory on this unique and sovereign sensor paradigm, which has performance characteristics that exceed traditional optic sensor technology, and we are excited about its potential application in NASA’s Moon to Mars Missions.”
Matt Dawson, Director Space, Thales Australia and New Zealand
“The opportunity to work with Thales to develop a new type of space-based capability is exactly the type of research we are focused on. We are looking to demonstrate the utility and efficiency of Neuromorphic systems while advancing our knowledge and understanding of field. This project will continue our broadening partnership with Thales and aims to deliver enduring impact in the emerging field of space based operations. The collaboration will enhance the skills and capabilities of both organisations and enrich the local ecosystem with new understanding of how to operate in the challenging space environment.
Professor Andre van Schaik Director International Centre for Neuromorphic Systems Western Sydney University.
1 Thales Alenia Space a Joint Venture between Thales (67 %) and Leonardo (33 %), was announced prime contractor for EROSS+ in January 2021
About Thales in Australia
Thales Australia is a trusted partner of the Australian Defence Force and is also present in commercial sectors ranging from air traffic management and ground transport systems to security systems and services. Thales Australia employs around 3,800 people directly and supports over 1,700 job along its Australian supply chain. In 2019 Thales Australia spent $522 million with 1,362 Australia suppliers, of which 70% are SMEs.
Thales Australia has a history of patient investment to build advanced in-country capability across manufacturing, critical systems and services. Close collaborative relationships with local customers, Australian SME suppliers and research institutions combined with technology transfer from our global business enables Thales to tailor high quality solutions for Australian and export markets, generating revenue of $1.6 billion in exports over the past 10 years.
About the International Centre for Neuromorphic Systems at the Western Sydney University
The International Centre for Neuromorphic Systems (ICNS) at Western Sydney University is a leading research group focussed on the development of neuromorphic sensors, processors, and algorithms.
They focus primarily on real world applications of neuro inspired perception and processing, where biological systems have natural advantages over conventional solutions: where robust, low power, high speed processors must respond autonomously to noisy, unpredictable environments.