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China’s revolutionary AI-powered “WonderJourney” satellite foretells fully autonomous spacecraft.
The satellite was launched in a Chinese commercially produced rocket among a package of satellites that were delivered into orbit. The WonderJourney is said to be able to process data on-site rather than back at ground control on Earth, and its purpose is to bring the age of autonomous spacecraft.
Chen Junrui, a spokesman for the Hangzhou-based developer STAR.VISION, said: “The goal is to enable human interaction with spacecraft, allowing the satellite to autonomously warn about situations that can’t be analyzed from the Earth’s surface and continue learning without sending vast amounts of data back to Earth.”
Chen further explained that String Edge AI Platform serves as the satellite’s brain and allows real-time observation and processing, so for the first time the data would not be sent back to a ground control center for analysis and instructions, but rather be processed on the spot.
According to Interesting Engineering, the satellite’s primary task will be to conduct system testing and validate various intelligent applications for efficiency in orbit. These applications include connecting with future smart cars and drones and monitoring environmental conditions like forest fires, soil moisture, and pest diseases.
When it comes to the technical features, Chen explains: “The WJ-1A is equipped with high-resolution cameras, near-infrared cameras, and VR panoramic cameras, allowing for various image processing tasks. Through image semantic understanding, it can recognize forests and oceans. It is also capable of target identification, lossless compression, and data cleaning.”
The satellite is equipped with functions for communication and is currently being updated to become a sort of AI assistant in space that ground users would speak to, similar to ChatGPT.
The company announced that “WonderJourney” will expand its constellation to 20 satellites by the end of 2024 in order to improve coverage and communication efficiency.