The Australian government’s newly formed Australian Space Agency (ASA) has partnered with Fugro to design, build and operate the Australian Space Automation, Artificial intelligence and Robotics Control Complex (SpAARC) in Western Australia.
Benefitting from additional funding support from the WA State Government, the new complex will support start-ups, small businesses and researchers in controlling robotics activities in space, including servicing satellites in orbit.
The ASA selected Fugro in Australia on the basis of their track record in cutting-edge remote operations and robotics control in harsh marine environments, which demonstrates their robust robotics control capability via satellite communications.
The creation of SpAARC will stimulate domestic space investment and provide new STEM education and diversified employment pathways. New space infrastructure will also lead to job growth in the Australian space sector and adjacent industries through accelerated technology transfer.
The head of the ASA, Dr Megan Clark AC, says: “The new space facility will encourage further research and development of remote asset management capabilities for use in space.
“Fugro is a leader in offshore positioning, inspection and monitoring, and seabed-mapping services, and we are thrilled that the establishment of SpAARC will create more high-tech jobs in robotics and automation to benefit other industries such as mining, agriculture, emergency services and maritime surveillance.”
Mark Heine, CEO of Fugro, says: “We are excited to partner with the ASA on a project of such national importance.
“Over the last few years, we’ve been rapidly delivering our own digital transformation with a strong focus on remote and autonomous operations and artificial intelligence.
“This new project is a fantastic opportunity to build on our existing capabilities in satellite positioning and remote operations being applied to robotics in space.”
The project received grant funding from the Australian Space Agency’s Space Infrastructure Fund: Robotics, Automation and Artificial Intelligence Command and Control Centre grant opportunity.