ESA title

Commercial Applications of Space-Enabled Robotics: Energy and Utilities

  • Opportunity Call for Proposals (Non-Competitive)
  • Activity Feasibility Study, Demonstration Project
  • Opening date 23-05-2024
  • Closing date 23-07-2024
  • WEBINAR 13 June 2024 - 11:00 CEST Register

This call comes under the umbrella of the “Commercial Applications of Space-Enabled Robotics” thematic call for proposals. 

This call invites proposals for Feasibility Studies and Demonstration Projects for services that combine the use of satellite technologies and robotics for downstream services for energy and utilities.

‘Robotics’ is here defined to include physical robots, autonomous drones, machines and vehicles, and precursory solutions or those that enable these (e.g. perception and navigation systems for autonomous systems, connectivity solutions to enable tele-operated robotics…).

Within the energy and utilities sector, applications of space-enabled robotics are foreseen in relation to supporting energy and utilities infrastructure deployment, operations, inspection, maintenance, and/or decommissioning. Infrastructure in question could be waste and water utility infrastructure, electricity grids, oil and gas platforms, on- or offshore wind farms, telecommunications networks, pipelines, nuclear power plants, solar farms or otherwise.

Value of space

Satellite Positioning can provide coarse to high accuracy positioning information to autonomous vehicles, vessels and drones operating in outdoor spaces. This can be used for navigation, geo- and timestamping of collected data, time-synchronisation of networked vehicles, and/or determination of speed and heading. Satellite positioning could be combined with inertial and alternative positioning techniques to support effective navigation. Augmentation of GNSS can offer higher positioning accuracies via solutions such as Galileo HAS (High Accuracy Service), RTK (Real-Time Kinematic), or otherwise, with the selection dependent on the service requirements.

 Satellite Communications provide data, video and voice communications and may add value to applications implemented in the following service provision scenarios:

  • Environments that have inadequate, unreliable, compromised, or altogether absent mobile cellular connectivity.
  • Mobile services that operate across regions with varying cellular connectivity quality (good in certain areas, poor in others…) and require continuous coverage and availability. 
  • Services that have high security, robustness and resilience requirements may benefit from satellite communications for redundancy in compromised or unforeseen circumstances.

Satellite Earth Observation
It is expected that satellite Earth observation could support autonomous vehicle solutions at the service level, i.e. providing complementary or enabling datasets such as mapping data to support the navigation of the vehicle, vessel or drone, in certain environments. Satellite earth observation data could support with optical, radar, meteorology data, or combinations thereof. 

Spaceflight Technology
Spaceflight Technology Spin-Outs are applications of robotics developed for use in space (and other astronomical objects) that also have commercial applications on Earth. This could relate to tele-robotic solutions and algorithms (perception, planning, control…) developed for the autonomy of space robotics that have applications on Earth, or otherwise. Spaceflight Spin-Outs are also considered eligible.

What we look for

We look for promising business ideas addressing topics of relevance or related areas that propose:

  • attractive market opportunities, identified customer needs and customer engagement
  • commercially-viable service concepts
  • technically feasible solutions
  • added value of space data or technology
  • motivated teams with business, technical, and financial expertise

What we offer

We offer funding and support to companies, both for business case assessment and for the development of new, space-based services. Our offer includes:

  • zero-equity funding* 
  • technical and commercial guidance
  • access to our network and partners
  • ESA brand credibility

*(50-80% depending on SME Status and Member State Approval)

ESA tender information

The initiative is open to the submission of proposals for Feasibility Studies and Demonstration Projects:

  • Feasibility Studies - which provide the preparatory framework to identify, analyse and define new potentially sustainable services
  • Demonstration Projects - dedicated to the implementation and demonstration of pre-operational services

How to Apply

  1. Scroll down to the ‘Downloads’ section of this webpage to download the official documents at the opening date. Official documents include an Activity Description (including the scope of the call, procurement approach…), an Annex (including relevant use-cases), and other supporting materials (e.g. webinar slides, if applicable)
  2. Download the Activity Pitch Questionnaire template and submit your pitch as instructed in the Activity Pitch Questionnaire guidelines, through the online form.
  3. ESA will evaluate your pitch. Teams whose pitches are positively evaluated will be invited to prepare an Outline Proposal and then a Full Proposal. Teams must obtain a Letter of Authorisation from their respective National Delegation before submitting a Full Proposal. Contact details of all National Delegates can be found here: National Delegation(s).

Authorisation of funding

This opportunity is open to companies that intend to develop space-enabled services and products related, but not restricted, to the topics of relevance outlined above. To be eligible for funding, your team must be based in one of the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom. Teams can involve non-European entities, but their contribution to the activity cannot be funded by ESA. Authorisation of Funding letters from the corresponding National Delegations are required as part of the application.

Authorisation of funding scheme