NASA Bets on Blockchain and AI for Satellite Intelligence Study
NASA has awarded University of Akron (UA) Assistant Professor Jin Wei Kocsis a three-year $333,000 Early Career Faculty grant as part of its Space Technology Research Grants (STRG) program. Dr. Kocsis will utilize the grant to develop AI and blockchain-based technology that will help satellites safely travel farther away while making decisions independently.
Space Travel and Fuzzy Logic
Satellites currently rely on wireless communication with Earth to send and receive vital mission data. As they venture further into space, these transmissions take more and more time to travel. If a satellite encounters space debris that must be avoided or needs to collect information from a nearby meteorite quickly, it is often incapable of doing so in time. Kocis says that,
“I hope to develop technology that can recognize environmental threats and avoid them, as well as complete a number of tasks automatically. I am honored that NASA recognized my work, and I am excited to continue challenging technology’s ability to think and do on its own.”
She plans to create a prototype, run simulation tests and then send her tech out into a deep-space satellite.
Kocsis hopes to use a “blockchain technique,” “decentralized computing infrastructure” and AI that relies on “deep learning techniques and fuzzy logic” to improve a satellite’s ability to think and react quickly and independently. Blockchain technology relies on a secured database that is spread out over numerous computers, rather than rooted in a central location.
Deep learning is data-based machine learning, and fuzzy logic is a type of logic that recognizes that there are many variables between 1 and 0, true and false, and other dualistic or binary pairs.
Kocsis is an assistant professor with the University of Akron’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. In the past, she has specialized in designing smart technologies that mimic biological thought. She now aims to create a satellite that uses multiple “thought centers,” rather than one central processor, to work on more than one task simultaneously.
She also reportedly plans to integrate game theory, which studies interactions between decision-makers, and contract theory, which examines contractual arrangements between actors, into the study.
A History of Innovation
Kocsis has previous experience with blockchain as well. In November 2017, she won the “Best Paper Award” for the work entitled, “Toward Resilient Networked Microgrids: Blockchain-Enabled Peer-to-Peer Electricity Trading Mechanism” at the First Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Conference on Energy, Internet and Energy System Integration in Beijing.
NASA’s STRG program focuses on the development of new space technologies for the benefit of “future systems capabilities and missions for NASA, other government agencies, and the commercial space sector.”
In related blockchain- satellite news, in August 2017, Blockstream Satellite launched, which broadcasts live Bitcoin blockchain data from satellites, substantially increasing the availability of this information across the globe.