The FutureWorld event was held in Toronto on 9 June 2018. The theme of the event was: The rise of robots, artificial intelligence, and smart machines.

The event explored how machine learning, robotics, and AI are transforming our world. The speakers included Bobak Ferdowsi (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory) or popularly known as the Mohawk Guy (flight director of the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Mission)  by Barack Obama,  Andra Keay (Silicon Valley Robotics), Lisa Winter, (Robotics Engineer, Huawei), Ryan Gariepy (Clearpath Robotics), Xavier Snelgrove (Element AI), Sougwen Chung (Interdisciplinary artist) and others.

Explaining Space-REX project to none other than Bobak Ferdowsi, NASA Systems Engineer!

To put it very mildly, we came back from the event super excited and energized by the future. We were preparing and looking forward to this events for weeks as it was bringing together people who are working on the edge of space robotics, artificial intelligence, science-art, and machines of the future.

Artash and Arushi demonstration our #BlackHole Bot to Lisa Winter. Lisa has been building bots for 20 years and competes in Robot Wars and BattleBots competitions
Arushi showing her KiloNova (1lb bot) to Lisa Winter, BattleBots/ RobotWars

Our family team was invited by the organisers to demonstrate some of its space robotics and artificial intelligence related projects. We enjoyed demonstrating our projects, listening to the speakers, asking them questions, and interacting with them at the end of the event. We once again thank the organisers for this gesture.

Post-event interaction with Bobak Ferdowsi, NASA Systems Engineer


Arushi explaining the Deep Space Dreams Project

We exhibited two of our projects at the “FutureWorld” conference – the Space-REX and our newest Deep Space Dreams project. Space-REX predicts Risk Index of Asteroid Collision using Artificial Intelligence and NASA Centre for Near Earth Objects (CNEOS) database and displays it musically on our homemade display. A detailed description of our Space-REX project follows in this blog. To read more about our “Deep Space Dreams” project, check out our blog posting:

Display with glowThere are millions of asteroids in the Asteroid belt located roughly between the orbits of the planets Mars and Jupiter. And some of these asteroids make a close approach to the Earth. Space-REX uses Artificial Intelligence algorithm / Neural Networks (based on Python) to predict the “Palermo Technical Impact Hazard Scale” for the collision of an asteroid with Earth. Our system would then convert the values of this scale into musical notes which would then be used to blink lights at the appropriate frequency on a custom designed hardware for displaying Asteroid data.

IMG_3688 (2)
The planning stages of Space-REX

For making this project, we turned to NASA for the open-source data. The Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) maintains the Sentry databaseIt is a highly automated collision monitoring system that continually scans the most current asteroid catalog for possibilities of future impact with Earth over the next 100 years.  CNEOS also calculates the motion of all Near Earth Objects (NEOs) forward to 2200 A.D. and backward to 1900 A.D., and makes them available as NEO Earth Close Approaches database.

We identified three parameters on which we used the Artificial Intelligence algorithm to predict Risk Index. These were “Proximity of Asteroid to Earth in Lunar Distance”, “Diameter of Asteroid”, and the “Velocity of the Asteroid”. We added one more parameter outside the algorithm, namely Asteroid Type: whether it is a C, S or M-Type Asteroids which are rich in Carbon, Silica, and Metals respectively. This was done to estimate the mining potential for that Asteroid for future space settlements.

Technical Steps

Step 1: Artash downloaded dataset from the Sentry and the NEO Earth Close Approaches database as csv file.

Step 2: He modified a Neural Network code written in Python by Milo-Spencer-Harper to read CSV file and increased the number of parameters it could model.

Step 3: We identified three parameters on which we would use Artificial Intelligence algorithm to predict Risk Index. These were “Proximity of Asteroid to Earth in Lunar Distance”, “Diameter of Asteroid”, and the “Velocity of the Asteroid”.

Results from running the AI Programme

Step 4: Artash used the Sentry database for training and testing his algorithm. The algorithm was then deployed on the NEO Earth Close Approaches database to come with the Asteroid Collision Hazard Scale values.

Step 5: Arushi loves piano. She wrote a Python programme which would convert the frequency data into specific musical notes.

Step 6: She took the Hazard Scale values from Artash, multiplied them with minus hundred to bring them into audible frequency range. She then used her programme to come up with musical notes corresponding to the values.

Step 7: Vikas and Arushi built a physical display over an old gramophone record (appropriately titled the Golden Record) using LED light strips, relays and Arduino. Arushi wired the relays and LED lights.

Step 8: Arushi modified the Arduino code so that it would be able to receive music data from Reaper (a music synthesis software) as midi files and control the relays to blink the LED strips.

Step 9: Artash embedded the musical notes obtained from Arushi’s Python programme as musical files to be played over different channels in Reaper.

Step 10: Artash and Arushi configured the Loop Midi and Hairless MidiSerial to read data from Reaper and port it to Arduino. They then tested it for a range of Asteroids data.

The event was organized by FITC which stands for ‘Future. Innovation. Technology. Creativity.’ FITC produces design and technology focused events worldwide that inspire, educate and challenge attendees. Since 2002, FITC has brought together like-minded professionals in Toronto, Amsterdam, Tokyo, San Francisco, Chicago, Seoul, New York, Los Angeles and many other cities. We thank FITC for giving us an opportunity to participate and demonstrate our projects during the Event.

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