$7.2m set for project sup­port­ing mas­sive ra­dio tele­scope

Global Times US Edition - - BIZUPDATE -

The Min­istry of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy has set aside a spe­cial fund for projects in­volv­ing in­tel­li­gent ro­bots in sup­port of the 500-me­ter aper­ture spher­i­cal tele­scope (FAST) op­er­a­tion, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment re­leased by the min­istry on Thurs­day.

Ac­cord­ing to the state­ment, 50 mil­lion yuan ($7.2 mil­lion) has been al­lo­cated for the ro­bot projects to sup­port FAST, and the sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy depart­ment in South­west China’s Guizhou Prov­ince will be re­spon­si­ble for iden­ti­fy­ing ap­pli­cants.

FAST, also known as Tianyan, is a ra­dio tele­scope lo­cated in a nat­u­ral basin in Ping­tang county in Guizhou Prov­ince. It was put into use in Septem­ber 2016, and it is cur­rently the world’s largest filled-aper­ture ra­dio tele­scope. It is mainly used for astro­nom­i­cal and cos­mo­log­i­cal ob­ser­va­tion and re­search, in­clud­ing de­tec­tion of dis­tant sig­nals and cos­mic ma­te­ri­als.

The projects for the sup­port­ing ro­bots of FAST in­clude ro­bots de­signed to en­sure the smooth op­er­a­tion and main­te­nance of FAST’S laser tar­gets and its over­all mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem.

The use of in­tel­li­gent ro­bots in large sci­en­tific projects in not un­usual. Ac­cord­ing to Zhou Min­feng, a se­nior an­a­lyst from Bei­jing-based con­sul­tancy ire­search, a top-down gov­ern­ment plan and fund­ing are push­ing the ap­pli­ca­tion of the sec­tor. In a sci­en­tific project like FAST, au­to­ma­tion and even ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence can pro­vide a high level of ac­cu­racy and pre­ci­sion.

“In­tel­li­gent ro­bots can give the FAST project a ro­bust con­trol sys­tem and en­sure its daily main­te­nance and op­er­a­tions are run­ning smoothly,” Zhou said. “Highly ac­cu­rate ro­bots can carry out very com­pli­cated tasks with high pre­ci­sion, some­thing that can­not be re­placed by man­ual la­bor.”

“As the sec­tor grows ex­po­nen­tially, it will be ap­plied more com­mer­cial ar­eas in­clud­ing ed­u­ca­tion, health and pub­lic se­cu­rity,” Zhou said.

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