Dunedin NZ Space Challenge finalists on AI + Antarctica
Dunedin NZ Space Challenge finalists harness AI to navigate Antarctica
A Dunedin tech team say using artificial intelligence to detect and map hazardous surfaces could be the answer to navigating the Extreme Environments of Antarctica and outer Space.
The concept is the innovation of Dunedin business, Deep Space Labs, one of the five regional finalists hoping to be crowned winner of the inaugural NZ Space Challenge.
Deep Space Labs co-founder Anton Hughes said the products will allow for safe, quick, and inexpensive science to be conducted across Antarctica and throughout the solar system.
“Our goal is to automate hazard detection and mapping. We developed our technology by addressing the problem of navigating across the hazardous crevasse zones on Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf.”
Hidden underneath the ice are deep, treacherous crevasses, so detecting and avoiding these hazards is crucial to the survival of any Antarctic expedition.
Hughes has teamed up with co-founders Adam Campbell and Josefine Trana to design a product package that develops new multi-spectral data analysis techniques to navigate Antarctica – and potentially some of outer space’s trickiest pitfalls.
The team operate out of Dunedin’ co-working space/start-up space "The Distiller".
They were named the Southland, Otago and Dunedin regional finalists in the national challenge, which brings together some of the brightest minds from across the country to use space data and intelligence to solve navigation issues on the ice in the Antarctic.
The NZ Space Challenge is the brain child of space enthusiasts and entrepreneurs, Eric Dahlstrom and Emeline Paat-Dahlstrom who have forged international careers in the space community and have chosen to settle in New Zealand, establishing SpaceBase with fellow co-founder Rich Bodo.
SpaceBase has partnered with economic development agency ChristchurchNZ to deliver this national challenge and the winners will be announced in Christchurch on Thursday as part of the Techweek’18 event, Extreme Environments – from Antarctica to Space.
ChristchurchNZ chief executive Joanna Norris says New Zealand has a vibrant tech sector full of world-class ingenuity, as clearly demonstrated by the finalists.
“We’re very proud to support the growth of the country’s technology and innovation sectors, which are growing rapidly and make an important contribution to the nation’s economy,” Ms Norris says.
“These world-leading solutions to the challenges presented by Antarctica and Space are not just good for our country, but innovation that’s good for the world.”
Deep Space Labs will join four other regional finalists to pitch their Antarctic navigation innovations to a panel of national and international judges with $40k going to the winning designer.
The event will appeal to those from the science, research, technology, innovation and education eco-systems and anybody with an interest in the Antarctic and Space and saving the world.