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Wednesday 21 July 2021

Fujitsu optimises space debris removal with Digital Annealer

Fujitsu logoLess than a year ago, the UK Space Agency committed £1m in funding to combat space debris. Seven UK companies have been awarded a share of the UK Space Agency grant, “Advancing Research into Space Surveillance and Tracking”.

One of those companies is Fujitsu UK. In collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Astroscale UK, and the University of Glasgow, it has created a prototype designed to improve mission planning – carefully deciding what is collected and when – in the removal of space debris. This will save significant time and cost and, as a consequence, improve commercial viability. This is an important step in reducing space collision risk, protecting new and existing satellites that support operations such as weather forecasting and telecommunications.

The project leverages Artificial Neural Network (ANN)-based rapid trajectory design algorithms, developed by the University of Glasgow, alongside Fujitsu’s Digital Annealer and Quantum Inspired Optimisation Services to solve some of the main optimisation problems associated with ADR (Active Debris Removal) mission planning design. AWS provides the Cloud and AI and ML tools and services to support the project. The Amazon Sagemaker toolset was used to rapidly develop the ANNs that accurately predict the costs of orbital transfers in a fraction of the time it would take to calculate them in full.  Astroscale UK, the world’s first commercial company to start a demonstration mission to remove debris from the lower Earth orbit, is providing the end-use case as a representative user of multi-target mission optimization.

Once again, this is an example of where a client of Fujitsu has used Digital Annealer successfully on a project and, as a result, other challenges where the technology can be applied have started to transpire. This has happened numerous times across Fujitsu’s client base where it has used Digital Annealer services to undertake complex, compute-heavy problem-solving. In this case, Fujitsu states it has learnt a great deal about how the technology could be applied to space optimisation; other use cases, for example, might be for in-orbit servicing. We will watch with interest to see when and how the technology is subsequently applied in future missions.

Posted by: Georgina O'Toole at 09:44

Tags: space   AI   quantum   quantumcomputing   sustainability  

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