China’s STAR.VISION AI Satellite to Use Rwandan-Developed Technology

Press release by the Rwanda Space Agency

Rwandan students receiving certificates of achievement for the project, flanked by the Rwanda Space Agency CEO, CFO, and CTO. Source: RSA

Rwanda Space Agency (RSA) and STAR.VISION Aerospace Limited (STAR.VISION) are thrilled to announce the successful completion of the Algorithm Rideshare Programme aboard satellite WJ-1A. This accomplishment marks a significant space technology and artificial intelligence (AI) step forward.

On 14 March 2023, RSA and STAR.VISION signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to advance the frontiers of space technology with the help of young Rwandans. The collaboration focused on developing and deploying AI algorithms to assess land use and generate statistics automatically.

A team of six talented students from Rwandan universities, including the University of Rwanda, Carnegie Mellon University Africa, and the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, collaborated under the mentorship of RSA engineers to bring this project to life. These cutting-edge algorithms enable the satellite WJ-1A to independently process images, eliminating the need for data downloads and facilitating real-time land usage assessment.

This technological achievement underscores Rwanda’s dedication to advancing AI and machine learning as both parties take bold steps toward integrating these innovations into space-related activities. 

“With the necessary guidance, we have challenged young students from academic institutions we have partnered with to develop satellite-based algorithms that can address real-world challenges. The result is a Rwandan-developed technology to automatically assess land use from satellites and generate statistics using AI algorithms. We aim to position Rwanda as a key player in space technology and its applications,” said Col. Francis Ngabo, CEO of RSA.

“We are proud of the success of our collaboration with RSA. The AI algorithms for automated land use assessment developed by Rwandan talents were successfully tested. I am delighted to announce that this innovation will soon be integrated into one of STAR.VISION’s satellites,” stated Mr. Noor Fan, co-founder of STAR.VISION, exuding profound contentment with the collaborative effort.

Furthermore, the success of this program stands as a powerful testament to collaboration between the public sector, academia, and the private sector. By joining forces, RSA, educational institutions, and STAR.VISION have demonstrated their commitment to the growth and sustainability of the Rwandan space sector.

“We plan to expand our collaboration to drive transformative changes for Rwanda and the global space technology community,” Mr Fan pointed out. This achievement strengthens the economic ties between Rwanda and China and exemplifies the significance of collaborative efforts. Such partnerships are crucial in advancing Rwanda’s aspirations for positive transformations in the lives of its citizens.

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