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Australia’s CSIRO Boosts Earth Observation And AI Budgets

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Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has announced it is investing AUS$35 million (U.S.$25.5 million) in space technology and Artificial Intelligence development.

This investment will be used toward the development of advanced imaging of Earth from satellites, as well as cutting-edge data science to support the growth of AI technology.

Space technology will receive AUS$16 million (U.S.$11.6 million) to identify and develop the science to leapfrog traditional technologies and find new areas for development. It will initially focus on advanced technologies for Earth observation, and then address challenges such as space object tracking, resource utilisation in space, and developing manufacturing and life support systems for missions to the Moon and Mars.

CSIRO’s investment in space technology builds on the launch of CSIRO’s Space Roadmap for Australia and supports the newly formed Australian Space Agency’s goal of tripling the size of the domestic space sector to AUS$10-12 billion (U.S.$7.25-8.7 billion) by 2030.

It will also grow CSIRO’s 75 years of work in space, and role as a leading technology provider to the space sector.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning will receive AUS$19 million (U.S.$13.8 million) to target AI-driven solutions for areas including food security and quality, health and wellbeing, sustainable energy and resources, resilient and valuable environments, and Australian and regional security.

Its primary research areas include platforms to improve prediction and understanding of complex data; platforms to enable trustworthy inferences and risk-based decisions; and data systems to enable ethical, robust and scalable AI.

This investment is part of CSIRO’s Future Science Platforms (FSP) portfolio, aimed at dedicating research to new and emerging opportunities for Australia.

“Our Future Science Platforms aim to turn Australia’s challenges into opportunities where new science can break through seemingly impossible roadblocks to give Australia an unfair advantages on the world stage,” said CSIRO Chief Executive Dr. Larry Marshall. “CSIRO is here to solve Australia’s greatest challenges through innovative science and technology – and to do that we have to invest in the big thinking and breakthrough research that will keep us ahead of the curve.”

The FSP portfolio aims to help reinvent old industries and create new industries, as well as develop the capability of a new generation of researchers through specially-created student places in these ‘future’ fields, which include eight other areas of future science in addition to space technology and Artificial Intelligence.

By 2022, the CSIRO Future Science Platforms programme will have invested AUS$205 million (U.S.$148.6 million) since it was launched in 2016.

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