The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is positioning Canada’s space community to maintain its global leadership in space robotics. Accordingly, the CSA announced today that it is investing $1.6 million in two concepts for lunar rovers that would use artificial intelligence to make their own decisions. Canadian businesses MDA, a Maxar company, and Canadensys Aerospace Corporation have each been awarded a contract worth $800 000 to develop an innovative concept for the CSA.
The CSA made the announcement at the start of a three-day event to promote Canadian space capabilities to major space companies, including Blue Origin, Airbus Defense and Space and Moon Express. As part of ongoing discussions with the international space community to prepare options for Canada's participation in the next chapter of space exploration, the CSA recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Moon Express, a US-based company. This agreement will enable Canadian firms and researchers to offer Moon Express their expertise and capabilities. The CSA will also explore the potential of using the company’s lunar lander service for the delivery of future Canadian payloads.
These activities will foster the growth and innovation of Canadian businesses in our modern economy and increase opportunities for them to export their technologies and services.
The contracts awarded to MDA and Canadensys Aerospace will support 61 well-paying jobs and position Canada to play an important role in future missions to the Moon with international partners.
A lunar rover would be crucial for scientific research: it would collect lunar samples for return to Earth and test technology required for a future pressurized rover able to transport astronauts on the Moon’s surface.
The ability to make decisions using artificial intelligence represents a new chapter in planetary rover technology: the rover would be able to assess its immediate environment, analyze risks, and autonomously plan its trajectory to meet objectives. Rovers with autonomous decision-making abilities will be able to accomplish a greater number of science objectives more efficiently.
44 organizations are attending the CSA’s Industry Days from October 15-17, during which time over 70 business-to-business meetings will take place.
“Canada’s space sector not only inspires Canadians to reach for the stars, it has for a long time been at the forefront of Canadian science, technology and innovation. With these investments, our government is supporting a key sector of our economy that creates good jobs and will continue to propel Canada's innovation economy to new heights," said the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.