Artificial Intelligence in Space – Canada’s New Space Strategy

Mar. 13, 2019

Exploration. Imagination. Innovation.

These are the pillars of the Canadian government’s new space strategy. On February 28, 2019, the federal government announced an investment of $1.9 billion over 24 years for the next generation of smart, AI-powered space robotics for the U.S.-led Lunar Gateway. The new strategy aims to leverage Canadian strengths like robotics, while advancing science and innovation in artificial intelligence and biomedical technologies.

The Strategy also places priority on harnessing space science and technology to solve important challenges on Earth that includes investing in satellite communications technologies and funding the development and demonstration of lunar science and technologies in AI, robotics and health.


So why is the Canadian government revealing a new space strategy now?

As the United States announced their intention to expand their Space Force, the federal government partnered with our neighbours to ensure Canada remains a leading nation in space exploration and research.

Canada will partner on the next major human exploration and science mission, the US-led Lunar Gateway. The Gateway will create new opportunities for the exploration of the Moon including the first-ever visit by Canadian astronauts.

The Lunar Gateway will support both human and robotic exploration as a science laboratory, a testbed for new technologies, a rendezvous location for exploration to the Moon, a control centre for lunar operations, and one day, a stepping stone for voyages to Mars.


What will Canada’s contribution look like?

Through this project, Canada is planning to build the next-generation AI-enabled deep-space robotic system by leveraging Canada’s leadership in artificial intelligence and the federal government’s existing investments in the high tech sector including the Innovation Superclusters Initiative and the $125 million Pan-Canadian AI Strategy.

Canada will invest $1.9 billion to develop and contribute a next-gen, AI-enabled deep-space robotic system. The planned smart robotic system will perform critical operations on the Lunar Gateway, supporting the deployment of various science and technology experiments. Current plans dictate it will possess a large and small robotic arm to allow the system to walk end-over-end, traversing around the Gateway. The system will be highly autonomous, allowing it to make decisions and continue operations without the presence of astronauts.


How can Canadian AI technology and enterprises support the  new space strategy?

The federal government plans to leverage procurement vehicles to help grow the space sector. The Innovative Solutions Canada program challenges Canadian innovators to develop solutions to important problems while providing them an opportunity to have the Government act as a first customer.

This program is opening up valuable procurement opportunities for Canadian small businesses while advancing our ability to tackle pressing challenges in space. The Canadian Space Agency has already issued the first challenge to Canadian innovators to help identify how artificial intelligence and big data analytics can be applied to help improve the operation and utilization of space assets, an innovation that could have important benefits across government.


You can read the complete space strategy here.