Report: Robotics and Automation on Earth and in Space Roadmap 2021 to 2030 (Australian Space Agency 2022)

Source: Australian Space Agency


Robotics and Automation on Earth and in Space

The resources sector has been delvering economic crowth and ioos to Australians for decades and is a cornerstone of Australian industry. Part of the success of the sector can be attributed to how it has embraced automation and remote operations technologies, which have flow-on safety and environmental benefits and create new job opportunities. The growth of analytics and robotics capabilities in the resources sector is estimated to add $74 billion to the economy by 2030 and create 80,000 new jobs. There is a tremendous opportunity to leverage and diversify this expertise as we look to grow and transform the Australian space sector. For this reason, Robotics and Automation on Earth and in Space is a key priority area under the Australian Civil Space Strategy 2019-2028 (the Strategy), and this roadmap is the third in a series of technical roadmaps to be delivered by the Australian Space Agency.

The application of robotics, especially remote operations and autonomous systems, to support humanity’s exploration and use of space has reached a signinicant intlection point. The Robotics and Automation on Earth and in Space Roadmap captures this opportunitv and provides a bold vision, tocused ambition and aspirational capability targets to support the growth of a globally respected and thriving industry in Australiay

Harnessing Opportunities in Foundation Services

The Robotics and Automation on Earth and in Space roadmap outlines the ways Australia is well placed to engage win the chaulenges and opportunities presented by translaung robotics, automation and remote operations technologies to space activities. Australan companies are already combining robotics technology with satellite communications to remotely service pipelines underwater, and are trialling Satellite-Based Augmentation Systems to assist in the precision control of mining vehicles. We are seeing increased demand for these technologies off- Earth, from intra-station cargo handling and Logistics, to trusted robotic systems for interaction, to on-orbit assembly and manufacture. and in support of NASA’s Commercial LEO Destinations (CLD) and lunar exploration program, Artemis.

Robotics and automation technologies need to endure the extremely hostile conditions of the Moon and Mars. As this roadmad details. there is an opportunity for Australia to leverage off-Earth resources and pre-existing expertise to deliver what we are calling Foundation Services. These include appucations sun as remote monitoring, remote maintenance, site preparation, materials handling and transport, planning, and logistics – whether on the surface of the Moon, inside a station, or for facilities management.

Foundation Services have also been identined as part of the exploration vision of the Trailblazer program, which is the signature element of Australia’s S150 million Moon to Mars initiative. In October 2021, it was announced that the Trailblazer program would support the industry-led development of a small Australian-made “Foundation Services rover” that aims to showcase Australia’s capabilities in remote operations and autonomous systems on the Moon.

A Shared Mission

This roadmap is underpinned by our values of being a responsible spacefaring nation. Australia is a State Party to the five international space treaties, and we were proud to further signal our commitment to the peaceful and safe use of outer space when we became a founding signatory to the Artemis Accords in 2020. We will continue to ensure our activities in space are consistent with our obligations, sustainable, and worthy of international respect.

The Robotics and Automation on Earth and in Space Roadmap is the collective acnievement of Australian Government, industry and the research sector. It demonstrates the inherent value of consultation and collaboration in the transtormation and growth ot a globally respected and responsible Australian civil space sector.

This roadmap is an important milestone on our road to achieving 20,000 new jobs and tripling the size of the civil space sector to $12 billion by 2030.

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