Nebula Public Library

The knowledge bank of ESA’s R&D programmes

De-risk assessment: Intelligent Space Camera

Programme Reference
Prime Contractor
Ubotica Technologies Ltd
Start Date
End Date
De-risk assessment: Intelligent Space Camera
To develop an Intelligent Space Camera that integrates state-of-the-art image quality with real-time Artificial Intelligence (AI) analysis of a video stream, using COTS technology
To build and test the Intelligent Space Camera hardware and software via a full prototype
To demonstrate an example use case using the Intelligent Space Camera
To verify the feasibility of the Myriad X for use in a compact form factor design in order to de-risk a follow-on full camera development activity

Background and justification:

The recent advent of on-board AI implemented with COTS devices has enabled a push of intelligence to the satellite, processing data at source, but this has not yet extended to the domains of Visual Monitoring Cameras (VMCs)
Previous developments (e.g., as demonstrated in the PhiSat missions) have shown that low-power, high-performance AI compute is achievable and applicable using the Myriad family of Vision Processing units, which have previously undergone radiation characterization in collaboration with ESA
Current VMC and launch vehicle camera systems tend to be ‘data gatherers’ rather than intelligence gatherers – where the former is a process of visual data acquisition from a camera, followed by storage and/or transmission. This leads to the acquisition of significant amounts of 2D data that may ultimately only be of sporadic value
This activity addresses the lack of intelligence in current VMC and launch cameras by adding efficient AI compute, along with hardware-accelerated stream processing, as part of a new intelligent camera designed for space

Achievements and status:

Hardware design of compact form-factor camera completed
Multi-stack camera hardware solution manufactured and functional and electrical bringup completed
Software developed to enable RTSP streaming, ISP, H.265 compression, text overlay, Ethernet C&C, and user configuration via CURL
Demonstration application developed to execute on the hardware
Demonstration of streaming AI ongoing


The added value of this technology for the targeted application (ESA mission, commercial application, etc.).
Small form-factor camera solution, operating in low power (~<10W) envelope and with Ethernet connectivity, can be easily deployed on many missions from CubeSats to larger satellites and launchers
The H.265 hardware accelerated compression, along with fully software programmable on-board processing, provides a flexible solution that can be adapted to VMC and launch camera applications
Command and control over Ethernet, facilitated via an on-camera HTTP server, enables control and data/intelligence acquisition from the camera without requiring any custom host software
Application Domain
Generic Technologies
Technology Domain
Competence Domain
3-Avionic Systems
Initial TRL
Target TRL
Public Document
Executive Summary
Final Presentation