13 April 2022


AI, Engineering, Media Updates, News, Space

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  • RHEA Group has been awarded a contract by the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) to design and develop an AI-Powered Digital Assistant for Space System Engineering.
  • The Digital Assistant will use artificial intelligence (AI) to support space system engineers by providing tailored recommendations during system design and seamless access to previously acquired knowledge.

RHEA Group has been awarded a contract by ESTEC to design, develop and demonstrate an AI-Powered Digital Assistant for Space System Engineering. The Digital Assistant will enhance the development of new space systems by providing an automated system to identify potentially beneficial information in existing knowledge resources such as digital models and reports from earlier projects.

This Technology Development Element (TDE) programme activity for the Directorate of Technology, Engineering and Quality Systems and Concurrent Engineering Section (TEC-SYE) will be interoperable with the Model-Based Engineering Hub (MBSE Hub) currently under development for ESA by two consortia, including one led by RHEA.

Space mission development projects often have commonalities; they may use the same or similar technologies and involve comparable assumptions and requirements. The aim is to develop a Digital Assistant that uses AI and machine learning to identify such commonalities and propose suggestions based on earlier projects, speeding up the definition phases and avoiding repetition of previous mistakes and omissions. The development of the new Digital Assistant will also make use of natural language processing (NLP) and knowledge graph databases.

RHEA is leading the consortium that will design and develop the Digital Assistant, with partners Thales Alenia Space France and University of Strathclyde. RHEA’s experts will ensure the Digital Assistant’s interoperability and integration with the MBSE Hub, and its validation with a representative group of end-users. The Digital Assistant will be developed based on the Space System Ontology, which describes a common vocabulary for space projects and is being developed under the auspices of the Model Based for System Engineering (MB4SE) advisory group.

Sam Gerené, RHEA Group’s Competence Area Lead for Concurrent Design and MBSE, explains: “It is a pleasure to collaborate with ESA towards the implementation of model-based system engineering [MBSE] by assisting both system engineers and domain experts in the application of state-of-the-art technologies. Space projects and concurrent engineering will both benefit from the research and development of new tools to support the entire space mission design lifecycle.”

Press contact: Isabelle Roels