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US-based Planet Labs plans development centre in India

Planet Labs Inc., a US-based integrated aerospace and data analytics company, plans to set up a development centre in India to tap into the technical expertise and business opportunities.

The company last week announced that four of its Dove spacecraft will be launched aboard India’s PSLV-C40 flight, scheduled early January.

In a historic 104 satellites launch conducted by the Indian Space and Research Organisation’s (Isro) rocket in a single mission in February this year, 88 cube satellites belonged to Planet Labs.

The company, founded in 2010, operates a large fleet of earth imaging satellites, collecting a massive amount of information about the planet. It designs, builds and operates satellites, and develops online software and tools that serves data to users.

Karthik Govindhasamy, chief technology officer and executive vice president of engineering at Planet, said, while the company would continue to work with Isro and its marketing arm Antrix on satellite launch opportunities, it is keen to market satellite data.

“It (the proposed development centre) is going to be a combination of both technical as well as for business side because we want to reach out to all the states and local governments and businesses,” he told PTI. “I have a couple of options in my mind. Bengaluru and Hyderabad are my top priorities (the development centre may come up at one of these two places),” Govindhasamy said.

The proposed development centre will in particular focus on artificial intelligence, primarily on analytics, and derive information from the data. “We are actually downloading unprecedented amount of data. We have to process that. Automation is not going to be an answer for that. We need to have engineers working with us to identify objects and images so that we can enable faster, real time processing of this data,” he said.

Planet Labs is engaged in discussions with Isro, government and commercial businesses on how to leverage the Planet Labs data to “enable other micro economic applications in India,” Govindhasamy said.

“I am in close conversation about creating may be a development place here to work with businesses and governments so that we can put this data to use, and help on bigger vision that India has today on digitalisation, modern cities and urban development...,” he said. “...using data from Planet and other Isro satellites...putting data to big use for supporting government and commercial opportunities like defence and security, urban development, precision agriculture, disaster management, and lot of other applications,” Govindhasamy said.


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