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ChAI, ESA to satellite-map commodity markets in bid to 'democratise' data access

London — ChAI (Commodities Artificial Intelligence), a UK-based company which uses AI and machine learning to makes short-term price predictions in the nonferrous metals and oil markets, has started a project in co-funding with the European Space Agency (ESA) for research and development, ChAI announced Aug. 12.

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The project with ESA's Space Solutions will initially take the form of a feasibility study entitled "Mitigate Commodity Price Volatility with Space Data," using satellite imagery to map and track key features of markets, in a bid to add value to market intelligence and improve price predictions.

ChAI said in a statement that alongside shipping data, earth observation data is one of the key alternative data sources that powers the company's prediction methodology, allowing it to identify changes and levels of activity at key areas of interest within the commodities supply chain.

Satellites can allow raw data to be obtained from metals operations that can be refined into intelligence, according to ChAI. For instance, imagery can lead to volume analyses of open cast mines and measurements of infra-red heat signatures being omitted by smelters.

ChAI co-founder Marcus Dixon said that the study with ESA will allow the commodities forecasting company to advance with its drive "to democratise access to alternative data."

ChAI's customers include companies in the aluminum and petrochemicals sectors. The company typically makes price predictions for one-week to three-monthly periods.

Following the feasibility study, the partnership with ESA may further progress to a demonstration project, and potentially the implementation of a commercial service, according to a statement from ChAI, which groups together technologists and former banking and metals executives.