May 02, 2016

CEOI-ST Industry Consultation Workshop “Autonomous Remote Sensing”

As sensing applications become more sophisticated and ubiquitous, there is a growing interest in autonomous remote sensing (ARS) systems to improve our understanding and control of the world around us. This manifests itself in a wide range of applications across the aerospace, defence & security, maritime, oil & gas, process control, rail, road, space, survey, etc.

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The round-table consultation brought together industry representatives from all of these sectors to discuss and provide input on market trends, challenges and opportunities that will inform CEOI-ST’s strategy for the next generation of Earth observation / remote sensing instruments.

The meeting aimed to:

 Illustrate how Earth observation instruments are developing and the research focus for the next generation
 Brainstorm with industry representatives the key service, technology, and data needs for current and future products and services
 Investigate the possibility of brokering relationships with interested parties along the supply chains for promising new applications / markets
 Create opportunities for attendees to network across the different communities
Technical challenges were identified in the areas of Artificial Intelligence, Autonomy, Data, “Data as a Service”, Decision Making, Human Interaction, Miniaturisation, Power, Reliability and Quality, Sensing Systems and Software Validation.

The meeting also highlighted changes in the way we consider and define Remote Sensing. Traditionally, remote sensing has been defined as the acquisition of information about an object or phenomenon without making physical contact, generally referring to the use of space based or aerial sensor technologies However, in recent years the definition has been extending significantly as the range of applications has developed into new fields. These new modalities include:

Terrestrial Based Remote Sensing – instruments traditionally deployed on spacecraft or aircraft are now being deployed in ground based applications, e.g. for continuous monitoring of urban air quality or security threats.
New Applications of Remote Sensing – there are growing requirements to analyse and monitor different structures such as tunnels or viaducts using remote sensing techniques in order to efficiently manage their construction and operation. The use of photogrammetry to measure and monitor tunnels is one example.
Remote embedded Sensing – while remote sensing has traditionally been completely stand-off, this definition is now evolving to include the use of embedded sensors to remotely sense and monitor structures and environments which are hazardous or difficult to access. While the sensors are embedded at the point of interest, the data is transmitted to a central point for processing, analysis, and action. Examples are aero engine combustion chambers, rail track, and steel casting. The challenge being addressed is sensing / monitoring from a distance of environments which are difficult to access with conventional sensors / instruments due to distance, scale (1000 Kms), environment (temperature / radiation / pressure), etc.

The discussion highlighted this evolving landscape of deployment and applications, and covered a wide range of requirements for technology improvements and solutions.

CEOI-ST will continue to support development of these technologies for Earth observation from space, and to ensure that opportunities are pursued for technology transfer to/from non-space developments. The inputs and conclusions of the workshop, as summarised in this report, will provide an important input into the strategy development process for the CEOI-ST programme.

Further information about this technology and others funded by the CEOI-ST can be found at You can also contact the CEOI-ST Director, Professor Mick Johnson: Tel: +44 (0)1438 774421 or email:

CEOI-ST Industry Consultation Workshop 2016030201 – Summary Report.pdf