Bird.i's CEO, Corentin, recently attended the Euroconsult summit on Earth Observation in Paris. This week on the Bird.i blog, he shares some of the key pieces of news from the event.
Thursday's session “Strategic insights from the leading operators” spurred an interesting dynamic, with Airbus Space and DigitalGlobe stating their determination to remain industry leaders, as they're challenged by an increasing number of "NewSpace" companies entering the market.
In response to this evolution, both are developing their capabilities with new constellations which are on-track for launches across the next few years. Airbus Pleiades Neo Constellation aims to launch its first two satellites in 2020, with another two to follow in 2021, while DigitalGlobe's WorldView Legion Constellation plans to launch six satellites on a SpaceX vehicle in 2021.
These new imaging assets will be supercharging their own platforms on the ground using One Atlas Data for Airbus, and GBDX for DigitalGlobe to offer a new type of imagery, backed with data analytics - an important element of both companies' future product development.
In light of this, Airbus announced three strategic partnerships:
Orbital Insight - This partnership appears to replicate the model already implemented with DigitalGlobe by developing their data analytic products on top of One Atlas Data. The main focus should be around change detection and we are very curious to see how scalable is their technology when applied to new satellite and sensor types, or if they’re going to raise a new round of investment to sustain their research and development efforts.
Planet - Earlier in the year, Airbus and Planet announced a strategic partnership to leverage both companies’ imaging capabilities. Although this deal remains on paper for now, it has already helped them to secure a first contract from the European Commission and the European Space Agency for the Copernicus programme. We're watching this space to see if this ambition leads to the consolidation of their their two data centres, hosted on Google Cloud.
Descartes Labs - After building a refinery comprising of free datasets generated by the Landsat and Sentinel constellations, Descartes Labs will now also be extracting data from Airbus One Atlas on a quarterly basis. Although their challenges will be similar to Orbital Insight's (i.e. the way Descartes Labs models can scale up from Landsat/Sentinel to Pléiades/Spot images), it is interesting to see how their business model differs, given that they own and operate their own data platform.
Later on, we also heard from François Lombard, SVP, Head of Intelligence Business at Airbus Defence and Space, who presented the exclusive first images collected by Airbus Zephyr Solar High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite after its first world record breaking autonomous flight of 25 days! This is incredibly exciting news for us at Bird.i, having developed an agnostic platform which integrates satellite and airborne imagery from multiple sources, and we believe that these new imaging capabilities will really complement our existing data offering.
It seems smaller companies such as Deimos Imaging or ImageSat International, may struggle to establish themselves without the same level of investment support larger companies have had, so creating strong partnerships with analytics companies and networks of resellers will be key.
The event confirmed that there are very exciting times ahead for the industry with lots of market landscape changes and technological advances. With Bird.i's platform already curating imagery from the world's top 3 satellite operators, we're looking forward to seeing how new innovations within the industry will shape our future offering, bringing further value to business users across the globe.
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