Swedish space startup develops LiDAR sensor for autonomous satellites

The Luleå-based space startup Vimotek AB, with funding support from the Swedish National Space Agency, is developing a novel space LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) sensor to aid proximity navigation for satellites in orbit. The LiDAR will be completely solid-state with zero moving parts, extremely small and capable, adopting recent technological advancements in photonics and space electronics.

For this project, Vimotek AB is partnering with Algoryx Simulation AB and Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (RAI) group at Lulea University of Technology combining industrial and academic expertise.

The LiDAR sensor will use time-of-flight measurements of laser beams to detect and characterise objects and their relative distances. Additionally, it will allow free-space communications between two LiDARs, enabling cooperative operations.

Being developed for use in harsh space environments, the Vimotek LiDAR will facilitate safe proximity operations of future autonomous machines and enable many new applications within space logistics and exploration.

This new LiDAR will address the needs of the new space economy, with significant improvements in operational efficiency and reduction of costs. Furthermore, it will satisfy advanced mission requirements of proximity navigation, robotics, and inspection for future fleets of different autonomous spacecrafts, space robots or rovers for in-orbit servicing/manufacturing, lunar mining, and many other operations.

The scope of the project is to develop a novel embedded LiDAR solution through innovative design and integration approaches like edge-AI driven SW (software) and use cases investigation, tests, and validation in digital TWIN (simulated model) and close to real environment (testbed).

About Vimotek AB

Vimotek is Lulea based space startup, currently an incubation company of ESA BIC Sweden and Arctic Business, developing solutions for space automation and enabling efficient space industrialization. We deliver machine vision, sensing, motion control and computing with edge-AI for Aerospace and Defence. Rendezvous and proximity operations (RPO) for space is major focus for Vimotek today.

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About Algoryx Simulation AB

Algoryx Simulation AB develops full system digital twins of complex autonomous machine systems, such as robots, construction machines, forestry machines, mining equipment and space robotics. Algoryx’s simulation environment is based on their world leading technology for real-time high fidelity digital physics, AGX Dynamics, combined with sensors simulation and integration with control systems and AI in virtual 3D environments.

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About the Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (RAI) group at Lulea University of Technology

The RAI group at Lulea University of Technology is a leading research group in Sweden with demonstrated expertise in robotics and control systems. RAI hosts state-of-the-art testbeds and infrastructure to test autonomous rovers and subsystems for proximity navigation including guidance, navigation and control algorithms.

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