Chinese WonderJourney Satellite Takes AI to Space

22nd Aug 2023
Chinese WonderJourney Satellite Takes AI to Space

A Chinese commercial satellite manufacturer is claiming a significant milestone in Earth Observation. Launched on 11th August, the AI-powered satellite named “WonderJourney” is now testing its systems. The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported on 20th August that WonderJourney derives its name from Zhuangzi, an influential Chinese philosopher renowned for inventing the concept of the “universe.” The manufacturer claims that this marks China’s entry into AI aboard commercial satellites.

Trailblazing Chinese AI Satellite

Chen Junrui, spokesperson for Hangzhou based STAR.VISION, told SCMP that the WonderJourney satellite’s objectives include enabling human interaction with spacecraft much like a terrestrial AI bot. The satellite, formally designated as WJ-1A, embarked on its journey from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Inner Mongolia on 11th August aboard a commercially built aboard a CERES-1 Y7 rocket.

Chen elaborated on the satellite’s technology, claiming that its on-board processor, called String Edge AI Platform, serves as the satellite’s brain. Also, new functions can be uploaded to it, and the platform is powerful enough to process still and moving imagery. The imagery is useful for Earth Observation (see the OT ranking of EO monitoring companies here) as well as interfacing with autonomous vehicles.

WonderJourney – its Equipment and Prospects

Chen detailed the satellite’s features, revealing that WJ-1A is equipped with high-resolution cameras, near-infrared cameras, and VR panoramic cameras, allowing for various image processing tasks. Through image semantic understanding, it can recognize forests and oceans. It is also capable of target identification, lossless compression, and data cleaning. The satellite’s communication capabilities are also noteworthy, and it is set to evolve into an AI assistant for space applications. Similar to the conversational AI ChatGPT, the satellite will offer voice interaction for ground users. Plans are underway to expand the “WonderJourney” constellation, aiming for a total of 20 satellites by the end of 2024.

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