“Conversation counts”, stated Ian Freeman, External Relations Officer at the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA). “It is clear that the future of space is commercial. With the increasing weight of the private sector, the ecosystem of stakeholders has become rich of both existing and emerging space nations. All these stakeholders must have a conversation, notably for working on measures and mechanisms relating to satellite registration and space debris mitigation”, he said. UNOOSA targets part of its efforts on space-derived services for development: “Space can support the achievement of approximately 40% of the UN Sustainable Development Goal and associated targets”, Ian Freeman underlined. The needs that be addressed by space technology or data include disaster management, water management, agriculture, health and medicine, fisheries, natural resources monitoring, and urban planning and cadaster.
For Rob Coneybeer, Managing Director and Co-Founder of Shasta Ventures, the key challenge for space is to dramatically improve autonomous operation via the addition of robotic technologies. “AI and machine learning technologies recently reached a tipping point, leading to all of the self-driving prototypes we see everywhere”, he said, “but we need better autonomous operation than we have today”. To bridge the gap, Rob Coneybeer advocates the use of a technology that allows humans and robots to work together, Supervised Autonomy. Partial teleoperation allows for regular switching between drone and robot functionality, with human oversight and additional IT tools. “The future isn’t “either/or”, he said. “The good news is that we won’t get a sudden reduction in transportation jobs. They will shift to more and more teleoperation tasks, to Supervised Autonomy, over the next few decades. And in the meantime, we will have less highway deaths, better jobs, and better environment protection”, he concluded.
“Why and how should Earth Observation data extend from the scientific area”? This was the question raised by Benjamin Hourte, Technology Director of EarthLab Luxembourg. “We have to adopt a digital entrepreneur mind and consider applications not as software but as assemblies of easy to replace and scalable components”, he said. According to him, we must stop considering Earth Observation data has a value, consider Big Data as a must have asset and not as end-user service, integrate Cognitive Analytics as any classical algorithm, and break the persistent view that agility solves everything. We have to move to an enabler view, consider Big Data as normal capability, ease the creation and use of AI models, and be really agile by adapting to changing situations and needs.