MDU researchers develop innovative technologies for use in space
Researchers at MDU have developed technologies that are now used in space. Under the framework of the DPAC (Dependable Platforms for Autonomous Systems and Control) research profile, researchers have created a computer architecture for radiation-safe server solutions and cloud services that will impact the entire space industry and a large number of digital services in space.
“It’s MDU research that has been ongoing in various projects since 2013 that forms the basis of SpaceCloud, a solution with radiation-safe heterogeneous server solutions for cloud services in space,” says Fredrik Bruhn, adjunct professor at MDU and co-founder of the company Unibap that will promote and commercialise the solution.
The computer architecture makes it possible to use PC technology in space. It takes into account the highly radioactive environment there which greatly affects the function of computers. Researchers at MDU have developed new computer architectures for AI, machine learning, deep learning and cloud services that operate in this tough environment.
“The server solution has a very high computational capacity and can be used for processing and analysing substantial amounts of data. A performance up to 1000 billion calculations per second can be achieved,” says Fredrik Bruhn.
“Research has been conducted in several phases and the first prototypes began to be tested in space in 2016, via industrial partners. The tests in space have been crucial to achieve good results, as it is difficult and costly to simulate the space environment on Earth,” says Fredrik Bruhn.
“The research results affect virtually all digital services in space. They lead to a democratisation of space, where any app developer can now send their apps to SpaceCloud to do advanced data and information analysis on space data.”
Stable 100 percent result
In 2021, the first commercial SpaceCloud solution was launched in space, based on research conducted at MDU. The launch, which was arranged together with the European Space Agency and European satellite service providers, took place with Elon Musk's SpaceX rockets from Cape Canaveral in the United States and was deployed 550 km above the Earth. All tests in space were conducted with 100% results, which demonstrate the stability of cloud services in space in the same way as on Earth.
“To take one example, our research partners were able to demonstrate an automatic flood analysis from satellites. Therefore we will be able to see the effect of the research in the form of faster availability of space data for water monitoring, forest fires, precision farming and global logistics chains, for example.”
Research at MDU was conducted in collaboration with industry parties such as Unibap and AMD, with funding from the Swedish National Space Agency and The Knowledge Foundation in particular.
“A significant aspect of our research is the depth of knowledge that MDU has in embedded systems. We have been able to collaborate with researchers and companies during several projects, in telecoms, heavy vehicles, aviation and transport, to understand how different industries work with safety critical systems. MDU is a unique resource and location for conducting research on "reliable" computer systems. Another decisive aspect is that we have worked very closely with AMD, one of the world's largest processor manufacturers, and have been able to look at the design of computational solutions for PlayStation 4 and 5 for example,” says Fredrik Bruhn.
Our research is on prestigious list
On 10 May 2022, SpaceCloud was selected to appear on The Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences’ (IVA) annual 100 List of research projects. The projects on this year's list concern research in the technical and economic sciences based on the theme of technology in the service of humanity. The research should be ready to be of benefit in the reasonably near future, for example through industrial commercialisation, business and method development or societal impact.
“The nomination is of course a great honour, but the best thing is that this year's list highlights the benefits of research, i.e. why it is important for us to be an innovation nation and that we can create research results that attract some of the world's largest companies,” Fredrik Bruhn concludes.
Seven MDU research projects rank high on the list of engineering and technology in the service of humanity
Recently The Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA) presented this year's list of research projects in Sweden which are deemed to have enormous potential to benefit society. The focus of this year’s list of 100 projects is on technology in the service of humanity. Seven of the research projects on this year's list come from or are linked to MDU.