What is Space Infrastructure Fund: Robotics, Automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) Command and Control Centre?

The Space Infrastructure Fund: Robotics, Automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) Command and Control Centre is a grant opportunity to support the development and operation of robotic and remote asset management activities in space, as well as Earth based activities that lead to the development of these capabilities in Australia. This includes:

  • robotic operation of on-orbit space assets
  • automated command, control and management of robotic activities in space
  • on-orbit servicing of satellites
  • assisting in the delivery of technology necessary for object handling, manipulation and assembly of satellite parts, and gateways or off–Earth base construction equipment.

 

Background

The Space Infrastructure Fund (SIF) is a $19.5 million investment in seven infrastructure projects to drive the growth of Australia’s space sector. The projects form an important element of the Advancing Space: Australian Civil Space Strategy 2019-2028, primarily addressing the ‘National’ pillar to increase capability in the sector.

The Space Infrastructure Fund: Robotics, Automation and AI Command and Control Centre grant opportunity is an open, competitive grant opportunity that will establish the Robotics, Automation and AI Command and Control Centre in Western Australia. It will be a national facility, with the Australian space industry being a key user of the centre. It is not intended that the Australian Space Agency own or operate the centre.

 

Objectives

The objectives of the grant opportunity are to:

  • establish a platform for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), including start-ups, and researchers to develop, test, operate and support the application of robotics, automation, AI and remote management activities in space (on-orbit servicing, satellites, gateways, space stations, the Moon, Mars or beyond)
  • provide infrastructure to operate technology in space
  • establish a development and test centre for remote technology which will be operated in remote, extreme and humanly unsafe environments in space and on Earth
  • provide an Earth-based test facility, and potentially representative operating environments, and interface modules to support remote real time operations
  • support the Australian Space Agency to deliver on national and international joint missions in robotics, automation and AI, including establishing partnerships with organisations to conduct and support operations either in space or on Earth
  • provide an opportunity for Australian industry to be involved in developing a robotics, automation and AI control facility
  • provide an enduring and accessible operating model for industry and other organisations to access the capability of the Centre, including beyond the last instalment of Australian Government funding in 2021-22
  • provide secure and robust communication links to ground stations for space communication.

 

Funding

For this grant opportunity, a single grant of $4.5 million will be awarded.

The grant amount will be up to 100% of project costs, however we expect that to be competitive, you will provide some additional contribution.

 

Eligible Projects

The Centre must be capable of scaling to support the following activities:

  • remotely operate autonomous and robotic systems in space
  • be aimed at supporting activities that expand the Australian space industry’s capability and capacity and explore opportunities that involve Australian businesses or Australian products and services. Some examples of such activities include:
    • research and development (R&D)
    • training
    • testing and validation
    • collaborative R&D.
  • Eligible activities may include:
    • working with the Australian Space Agency and the Australian space industry to establish suitable robotics, automation and AI command and control capability requirements
    • preparing a functional design brief or equivalent
    • purchasing hardware (screens, cables, furniture, antennas, fibre optic links, other ICT etc.) and software to run the required programs
    • hiring appropriate staff and contractors to fit-out and operate the Centre
    • managing the security requirements for the Centre, including its public elements
    • establishing connectivity with existing and planned satellite dishes
    • operating, managing and controlling the centre for the grant funding period
    • establishing a financially self-sustaining operating model
    • promoting use of, and facilitating access to, the centre by SMEs and researchers
    • provide the following capabilities:
      • capability for reliable and robust communications between Earth, gateways, space stations, other spacecraft or celestial bodies
      • capability for managing communication delays with equipment in space or on Earth
      • capability to test a full range of robotic operations, in remote, extreme and humanly unsafe environments and cater for anticipated communications paradigms included disconnected autonomous operations
      • capability to integrate with South Australia’s Mission Control Centre.

 

Eligible Applicants

To be eligible you must:

  • be an entity incorporated in Australia and a trading corporation, where your trading activities
    • form a sufficiently significant proportion of the corporation’s overall activities as to merit it being described as a trading corporation; or
    • are a substantial and not merely peripheral activity of the corporation.

This grant opportunity can only accept applications:

  • where you can provide evidence from your board (or chief executive officer or equivalent if there is no board) that the project is supported, and that you can complete the project and meet the costs of the project not covered by grant funding
  • where you can provide an Accountant Declaration that confirms you are a trading corporation as defined in section 4.1 and can fund any project costs not met by the grant.

Joint applications are acceptable providing the lead organisation is the main driver of the project and is eligible to apply.

 

Timing

Applications close 04 February 2020.

 

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