Big data analysis and artificial intelligence: through HPC davinci-1, Space provides us with increasingly advanced solutions and technologies

06 May 2022

Franco Ongaro, Leonardo’s Chief Technology & Innovation Officer, interviewed by Class CNBC, discusses the potential of analysis of big data, processed using artificial intelligence algorithms by the davinci-1 supercomputer installed in the Leonardo Lab in Genoa.

The recent States General on Artificial Intelligence, a three-day event focusing on applications - some already operative, others still unexplored - of this technology that is becoming increasingly pervasive and affecting all areas of our lives, from industrial production to citizens’ services and potential applications in the Space sector, through analysis of big data received from satellites.

In this interview, Leonardo’s CT&I Officer focuses on space applications of artificial intelligence, reporting on the many technological solutions now emerging, primarily in the field of Earth observation.

Ongaro explains that neural artificial intelligence networks, “trained” to read and process satellite data, “can recognise particular features of the territory in all the bandwidths in which they are recorded for various applications”. The result is rapid availability of a clear representation of phenomena taking place on our Planet and in its atmosphere: we can observe climate change, support precision agriculture, or track deforestation. All this can be done much more quickly and accurately than in the past.

Ongaro points out that artificial intelligence is also used in one of the most advanced areas of research in space: exploration of the cosmos, an area in which autonomous onboard systems play a key role. These include the robotic arms Leonardo is making for the Mars Sample Return mission. “Those robots require a high degree of autonomy,” recalls Ongaro, “because it can take up to fourteen minutes to communicate with Mars”. The more autonomous and capable of learning independently from its environment the system is, the greater the security of operations during the mission on Mars.

But artificial intelligence also has numerous applications other than space.  Leonardo uses it in all its fields of business, to come up with solutions in a variety of fields of technology through the work performed in the network of Leonardo Labs. “In the areas of robotics, electrification of aircraft, new materials and all the research work underway in our Labs,” notes Ongaro, “artificial intelligence is one of the most useful tools we have”.

“Leonardo Labs are an essential component of technological innovation in Leonardo”, he concludes, announcing that the company is selecting about 50 young researchers to be hired in the year 2022, to continue its research in artificial intelligence, as well as in other advanced technological areas. The goal is to hire a total of 200 researchers by the end of next year.