NASA’s space suits have gotten their first major update in decades, and they’re using AI to do it. These next-generation spacesuits will be worn by the astronauts in 2024 when they plan to achieve their goal of having a permanent human presence on the moon.
They have put in place the Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU) and are designed to make an astronaut’s life easier while on the moon. They will have improved flexibility, better fit, and can go months without repairs. The improvements are xEMU’s life-support system that looks like a backpack which houses the suit’s power, communications, oxygen supply, and temperature regulation. And that is where AI comes in.
Jesse Craft, a senior designer at Jacobs, and their team are working on this project trying to find the perfect balance between comfort and reliability. The AI software they’ve implemented can come up with new component designs quickly and help meet the deadline of the 2024 moon landing.
Jesse Coors-Blankenship, the VP of technology at PTC, was the company that made the AI software. In this article from WIRED, they said, “this approach to engineering is known as generative design. The basic idea is to feed the software a set of requirements for a component’s maximum size, the weight it has to bear, or the temperatures it will be exposed to and let the algorithms figure out the rest.”
PTC uses software called generative adversarial networks that have two machine-learning algorithms that “face-off” against each other to find the best design. Right now, this method is being used to build brackets and support structures that would keep the astronauts alive.
While this AI software is being implemented into the making of these suits for only certain aspects, the potential is astronomical on the impact it could have not only for NASA but other companies.
The digital age is alive and well, we’re only going to see more artificial intelligence as the innovation continues!