Partner Profiles: Deimos Space UK
“Pretty much all of our projects involve environmental data in some form. At the moment we are focusing on work using satellite Earth observation data to create services for agriculture, natural resources management, urban planning and environmental monitoring”
– Michael Lawrence, Business Development Director
In the first of a series of features taking a look at each of our IEA Partners in turn we put Deimos Space UK in the spotlight. Deimos is one of the Founding Partners and we had coffee with Michael Lawrence, Business Development Director, in Harwell, where the company is based next to the Satellite Catapult Applications.
Michael, can you give us an overview of Deimos Space UK and the breadth of the parent company, Elecnor Deimos?
Deimos Space UK, is a subsidiary of Spanish company Elecnor Deimos, founded in 2001 – the technology arm of the Elecnor industrial group.
Elecnor Deimos specialises in design, engineering and systems integration in the following markets:
- Satellite Systems and Remote Sensing
- Aeronautics and Defence
- Energy and Environment
We are involved in the majority of ESA programmes including exploration, Earth observation, satellite navigation, launchers and human space flight.
Our research and development portfolio has a broad reach covering diverse satellite applications from smart cities to precision farming.
In 2014 we expanded our downstream satellite applications business by incorporating Magellium Ltd.
Deimos Space UK now employs 20 people in the UK, worldwide Elecnor Deimos employs more than 500 people and has six offices in four countries – UK, Spain, Portugal and Romania – and is in the rare position of being a creator of space systems, an operator of commercial Earth Observation satellites and a developer of EO applications.
What innovative projects is Deimos currently working on?
SAFIY – Smart Application for Feature extraction & 3D modelling using high resolution satellite imagery.
We are very proud to have one of our projects associated with the Smart Dubai initiative, Dubai’s vision to become the world’s happiest city, offering what they describe as ‘an efficient, seamless, safe and impactful city experience’.
With funding from the UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Space Programme, Deimos Space UK is working with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) to automate the production of geospatial information, based on satellite data, which can be used by Government departments to aid planning and to monitor change. Deimos and MBRSC have built a system to produce data on buildings, roads, water and vegetation using high resolution optical EO data from two satellites – DubaiSat-2 and Deimos-2.
The satellite data can be imported, and largely interpreted, automatically resulting in reduced workloads, lower costs and increased efficiency. Algorithms automatically identify features such as roundabouts and can distinguish between paved and unpaved roads. They also identify any changes including new features or modifications and present this information in near real time.
Looking ahead, a memorandum of understanding between UK Space Agency and the United Arab Emirates Space Agency is going to support Deimos in pursuing similar opportunities across the UAE, based on its relationship with Dubai.
|Company Name:||Deimos Space UK Ltd|
|Sector:||Space systems, services and applications|
|Managing Director:||Philip Davies|
|Staff based in the UK:||20|
|Tel:||+44 (0) 1235 567231|
What practical insight would you share from this project so far?
Make sure what you are offering is ‘painless’ for users to adopt, not disruptive. That could mean ensuring the outputs of a new system can interact seamlessly with existing systems – in terms of processes as well as databases – to get buy-in from users.
Also, build relationships with people at all levels within the teams at partner organisations at the start of the project; this includes face-to-face meetings, both formal and informal. This builds trust and makes it easier to work together during the project when much of the contact may be remote.
Which of your projects have focused on the environmental sector?
Pretty much all of our projects involve environmental data in some form. At the moment we are focusing on work using satellite Earth observation data to create services for agriculture, natural resources management, urban planning and environmental monitoring.
Services under development include precision farming, crop monitoring, irrigation planning, monitoring of urban growth and automatic map updating using satellite imagery.
A new product we have collaborated on – EssentialsMap – will be launched by our partners Soil Essential Ltd at the Cereals 2016 event in June. It is an intuitive online farm mapping system that allows users to manage spatial farm data such as soil sampling, yield mapping and variable rate map production.
Deimos Space UK led the collaboration which was co-funded by ESA, and also includes the drone company G2Way.
EssentialsMap is an exciting innovation because it is the first cloud-based farm management system to be integrated with Trimble‘s Connected Farm which allows variable rate application maps to be sent directly to the user’s Trimble console without using a USB stick.
What opportunities does being a member of the IEA Partnership bring to Deimos?
The basic idea of the IEA is to accelerate the commercialisation of research in environmental analytics and we have already seen that the IEA can give us access to additional resources and capabilities that are useful in our R&D projects. The IEA has a good mix of our ‘natural’ partners plus a few new and interesting ones like Sainsbury’s and Microsoft who we hope to work with in the future.
What do you see as the biggest challenge on the horizon for Deimos Space UK?
We are only in our third year of operation in the UK so in some ways we are still in start-up mode and our strategy is evolving as our team grows. We will need to keep the momentum going both in terms of new R&D activity and the commercialisation of new EO based services.