Aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman of the US Navy
A recent study by Chinese space scientists found that the country’s artificial intelligence (AI) satellites are capable of tracking US aircraft carriers online. South China tomorrow post 10th of May.
Stream with high precision
When the US Navy aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman departed for an exercise through the Long Island Straits (New York, USA) on June 17 last year, a Chinese remote sensing satellite using cutting-edge AI technology was automatically detected.
This system transmits the information from the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier to Beijing with high accuracy. The day’s live-fire exercise involved seven warships and many aircraft simulating combat against a powerful enemy while passing through a narrow strait.
The fleet has been experimenting with various tactics, such as changes in formation and contingency maneuvers, to deter enemy submarines and other threats, according to the US Navy.
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In the past, the Chinese military has collected and analyzed vast amounts of raw data from satellites to obtain detailed information about such drills in US waters, and the results are often obtained after the incident has ended.
With satellites using AI, Beijing can now track and “live stream” military activity or weapons of interest on the other side of the globe, according to a space scientist, Duong Phuong and colleagues at Beijing’s DFH Satellite Company.
challenge in space
The satellite intelligently acquires images of the US aircraft carrier and is able to distinguish many tactical and strategic targets by analyzing more than 200 high-resolution frames per second. According to the Chinese team of experts, this speed is inherently difficult for some computers on the ground.
According to a Beijing-based satellite imagery researcher, deploying AI in space will bring many challenges. AI algorithms require a high level of “training” based on large amounts of data, while on-orbit computing resources are quite limited.
Satellite computers often lag behind ground-based computers in processing speed due to weight, space, and power limitations. In addition, they must function in harsh environments for many years. Most microchips responsible for AI tasks will quickly fail under strong sources of radiation.
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Duong’s team says they’ve made a breakthrough in lightening the weight of AI technology. Image recognition with an algorithm they developed for satellites consumes only 3% of the computing resources compared to a traditional algorithm.
They also created a new generation of integrated AI circuit groups that can handle many different tasks simultaneously on the satellite. If one chip fails, a backup chip takes over to keep the satellite running.
The area in New York where the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman trains is overcast. According to Yang’s research team, Chinese satellites locate the aircraft carrier in the gaps between the clouds with images so sharp that there is virtually no chance of error.
In another test to determine the capabilities of AI in space, the same satellite discovered and collected coordinates of military aircraft, warships and other strategic assets such as oil tanks at sea in northeastern Australia. The researchers did not name the satellite, and Ms. Yang did not respond to a request for comment.
A number of small satellites launched by universities, government research institutes and private companies in China in recent years have applied AI to improve China’s response to world events. Ms. Duong and her colleagues said that since AI will remove junk information on communication channels, intelligent satellites can increase the effectiveness of communication by millions.
China also plans to deploy AI on older satellites, according to researchers involved in StarNet, the global internet satellite project launched by the Chinese government last year. StarMet will have about 400 satellites, far fewer than Starlink and OneWeb’s US networks. However, some Chinese telecom satellites will be equipped with AI processors to improve performance. These telecommunications satellites will receive and analyze raw data from previous remote sensing satellites, analyze targets of interest and transmit information to users with minimal latency.