Airbus shortlists 51 teams for Round 2 of Fly Your Ideas

Airbus has selected 51 international student teams to go into round two of its sixth Fly Your Ideas global challenge. Students were invited to innovate in six key areas covering Electrification, Data Services, Cyber Security, Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and Mixed Reality.

The teams involving 179 students representing 47 nationalities from 66 universities developed ideas which included solutions for surveillance drones, alternative power generation, groundbreaking in-flight entertainment systems and many others. The shortlisted teams have three months to mature their ideas with the support of Airbus mentors and aerospace experts before up to six finalists are chosen. Finalist teams will compete for a share of the €45,000 prize and the chance to take their idea forward within the aerospace industry. Teams will share project updates, photos, sketches and stories using #flyyourideas and will be captured on the social wall.

The competition is an offer from Airbus to students worldwide to bring their ideas to life together with a leading global company on real industry challenges. Airbus is looking for ideas that change the future of aerospace and create a safer, cleaner and better-connected world.

The majority of participants come from engineering, digital and technology disciplines with 90% studying subjects such as Engineering, Information Technology, Nanotechnology or Telecommunications. Seven out of ten teams include mixed nationalities, genders, profiles or disciplines. Airbus sees diversity as an essential driver for innovation and success. With regards to the region, Europe and Asia-Pacific lead the field. Countries which are represented for the first time in Round 2 include Ghana, Kazakhstan, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.

You can also find out more about Airbus Fly Your Ideas and the unique partnership enjoyed with UNESCO on the competition website. Please also join the Facebook community. 

The Airbus Fly Your Ideas adventure begins: Round 1 recap

Round 1 closed in November 2018 and Airbus Assessors are now selecting the top 50 teams to soar ahead to Round 2 of Fly Your Ideas. Teams will be informed whether they have been successful on 17th December and will have until March 2019 to develop their Round 2 submissions.

What happened in Round 1?

In Round 1, students formed their team and selected one of six digitally focused challenges for the future of the aerospace industry: Artificial Intelligence, Cyber Security, Electrification,Data Services, Internet of Things and Mixed Reality. Each team came up with a solution based on the key question for their chosen challenge.

270 teams comprising 941 students from 72 countries completed a simple online questionnaire about their idea. Students were asked to explain the technology behind their idea and to consider its business potential, the benefits it will bring to the end user, any obstacles in its development, and to start thinking about the sort of prototyping they might develop in Round 2. They also submitted a sketch to help visualise the idea.

What happens next?

In Round 2, teams will submit a visual report and a video with support from their Academic Mentor. In addition, teams will be assigned a dedicated Airbus Mentor and benefit from technical advice from Airbus Experts.

The Airbus Assessors received some particularly innovative, interesting and creative ideas this year. Thank you to all teams who submitted and stay tuned for the results!


Fly Your Ideas Challenge: Internet of Things

How can the Internet of Things revolutionise the passenger experience and improve collaboration in the aerospace industry?

The Internet of Things – IoT – helps Airbus to gather and process the right data at the right time to improve processes and create future products and services for our customers and their passengers. IoT makes collecting and managing large amounts of big data possible and opens up new analytics and Artificial Intelligence-based microservices.

“The Internet of Things is a key enabler for digital transformation in all functional areas,” says challenge sponsor Dr. Anes Hodzic, head of IoT at the Airbus Digital Transformation Office. “Huge amounts of data from large numbers of connected devices require new ways of ingesting, modelling and securing that data. Those devices have to interact with each other to make the data useful for the end user. With the right level of creativity to shape how that happens, we can change how we work and interact together.”

The huge increase in connectivity that Hodzic references has led to demand for scalable data collection and processing capability. Cost-effective data transmission, low-cost data processing and storage are all key enablers for real-time IoT applications.

Airbus is looking for Fly Your Ideas students to think about IoT in terms of technologies or applications that could improve the passenger experience of air travel. These could include new data-driven interaction between aircraft, crew and passengers; improvement of the journey experience from home to destination; or personalisation of cabin environments based on mobile data.

Teams should consider IoT solutions which change how employees, partners, subcontractors and customers in the aerospace industry collaborate. Examples include training or information exchange for shop floor technicians and service employees; tracking of parts in the supply chain; or real-time interaction with suppliers and customers.

“I don’t claim to have the smartest people already on board at Airbus when it comes to IoT,” says Hodzic with a smile. “Through Fly Your Ideas I’m interested in seizing the creativity and imagination of the ’digital native’ generation that has grown up with social media and digitalisation.”

So what is his advice to students thinking of tackling the challenge? “Think big but start small. Addressing the complex issues our industry faces starts with simple solutions with user in mind and experience isn’t necessarily an asset!”

Fly Your Ideas: Electrification Challenge

Electrification has long been seen as the key to flying longer, further and cleaner but how can this technology be embedded in the Airbus products of the future?  “This is a major issue, a chance to preserve our planet,” says Valery Gineste, this challenge’s main sponsor.

The possible benefits of Electrification are well known – particularly the potential to dramatically reduce the environmental impact of air travel by dramatically reducing emissions. Less familiar is the recent progress in crucial technologies that have reduced the energy and power densities, and recurring costs of electric propulsion.

These are exciting trends but further improvements in the range and mission capabilities of electric vehicles are needed. Airbus is investing in research dedicated to developing the technology and expertise needed. Students can apply their creativity and innovative approaches to electric flying involving commercial aircraft, drones, helicopters or spacecraft.

“In the aerospace industry we love challenges and Electrification could make a huge difference to all our products and other forms of urban travel too,” says Valery. “This is a superb opportunity for Airbus to show what we can achieve together and ensure good air quality for all.”

You could work with Airbus to discover new solutions to reduce the weight of the aircraft energy storage and generation systems. Or maybe devise improved technologies and systems combinations, architectures, or energy systems integration to enable better performance through innovative embedded electrical energy systems.

Teams might also focus on the recharging, diagnosis and potential grid interfaces, the harvesting of energy for redistribution, or even solutions for the second life of energy storage systems.

“My advice to entrants is simple,” concludes Valery. “The stakes are high so be bold, be innovative and be part of the generation that finds a solution. This challenge is for dreamers and game changers who want to shape the world of tomorrow.”

How diversity stimulates innovation

Diversity is integral to the Airbus identity, with over 20 languages spoken and more than 130 nationalities represented. A diverse team brings a diverse collection of ideas, increasing creativity and performance. All the winning teams since Fly Your Ideas launched in 2008 have mixed gender, nationality or discipline, proving that diversity stimulates innovation. In this article, we highlight some diverse teams from previous years of the competition to inspire you to form your own diverse teams.

Team MultiFun

Our 2015 winners are shining examples of diversity. The team of engineering postgraduates representing India, the UK, the USA and the Netherlands, brought their idea to life despite working in four countries on three continents. The team met together for the first time at the Fly Your Ideas final in Hamburg.

Their prize-winning idea combines energy harvesting and energy storage into weight neutral structural panels with the intent of gathering energy from structural deflections in flight, to replace or supplement energy from auxiliary power units and engine bleed.

Team Sky Vision

These 2017 finalists from the University of Surrey, UK, have mixed gender, nationality and discipline. The team consist of three undergraduate students – two male, and one female – of Iraqi, British and Cypriot nationalities.

Their idea turns a commercial airliner into an ‘Earth Observation Device’ by installing equipment into the fuselage of the aircraft to monitor ground activity during flight. An alternative to satellite imagery, it opens up new opportunities in areas such as environmental analysis and urban planning.

Team Bolleboos

Finalists in our 2015 competition, the all-female team of Engineering students from Spain, Italy and the Netherlands represented City University London, UK.

Their idea is a wireless Power Transfer to improve taxiing for more efficient ground operations using the principle of inductive power transfer by which aircraft are electrically charged while running on the taxiway. The system consists of a source system embedded on the ground and pick-up system on the aircraft.

Fly Your Ideas is open to students of all genders, nationalities and disciplines. We hope this article has inspired you to create your own diverse teams and develop creative solutions to one of the six challenges. Round 1 is now open for submissions – don’t miss out!

Fly Your Ideas Challenge: Be bold and have fun with Mixed Reality

Mixed Reality (Augmented and Virtual Reality) mass-market technologies are rapidly changing the way companies such as Airbus imagine their industrial operations and develop future services. How will the aerospace industry put them to work?

Mixed Reality (MR) technologies have long been used to support pilots during certain flight phases, to improve the aircraft design process and to enable interaction with 3D digital models before production. Now Airbus wants to harness widely available products to develop exciting new solutions.

“At Airbus we are convinced MR will massively transform both our personal and professional lives,” says challenge sponsor François Favre. “This technology is right at the core of our digital transformation programme.” One example is aircraft marketing. Today marketing still involves lots of paper documentation, costly mock-ups and site visits. A Mixed Reality interface could provide remote, flexible and interactive support for customers as they make vital decisions about product design and configuration.

Indeed, Mixed Reality apps are already available off the shelf, run on standard smartphones and have the potential to speed up the development of specialist products and services for the entire aerospace industry. Fly Your Ideas student teams are encouraged to demonstrate the potential of MR apps for the aerospace industry. This could involve defining user stories, producing a working prototype and highlighting the operational benefits and limitations of their idea.

“We’re already seeing an amazing variety of potential MR applications emerging across all Airbus divisions and business areas,” François adds. “My message for Fly Your Ideas applicants interested in the subject would be, ‘join the party, be bold and have fun!’”

Fly Your Ideas: Cyber Security Challenge

How can Airbus help the airline industry to securely and seamlessly authenticate travellers while minimising the impact on passengers, air security and airline operations?

Checking and authenticating passenger identity is a major concern for airborne public transportation. It is an essential part of the customs process as well as airport security, luggage management and aircraft safety. Checking and authentication are needed to sell plane tickets and services such as lounge access, priority boarding and inflight entertainment services – or simply so the cabin crew can ensure every passenger is onboard and in the right seat.

These very different processes rely on authentication using passports, ID cards, loyalty cards or credit cards and involve multiple checks. Cumulatively, this impacts passenger journey quality and uses valuable airline, airport and customs resources.

Fly Your Ideas students have an opportunity to refresh this cumbersome, time-consuming process. Air transportation needs simple, fast and secure authentication from ticket purchase to arrival at the traveller’s final destination.

New solutions could be a specific token, a smartphone app, an online service – or something else. “Fly Your Ideas is a unique opportunity for us at Airbus Security,” says Airbus head of security and challenge sponsor Dr Pascal Andrei. “Behind the buzzword, cybersecurity is a global matter that touches everyone in their personal and professional lives. The contest will enable us to benefit from the daring ideas of ingenious minds.”

Finally, what advice would Pascal have for students interested in this challenge? “Don’t limit yourself because you are not studying cyber-security, nor a security expert,” he says. “Think of what you would appreciate as a traveller, then think about the cyber-security implications.”

Fly Your Ideas: Data Services Challenge

Airbus generates a vast amount of data from various platforms and, as this challenge’s main sponsor Jean-Michel Darroy says, “Data is the new oil!”

Aircraft, helicopters, drones and satellites all produce information that could be the key to innovative new applications and services. These as yet undiscovered areas could revolutionise the aerospace industry, transform the passenger experience, or have a radical positive impact on domains such as security, the environment, smart cities and more. “Data is one of the most exciting domains of the modern world,” says Jean-Michel. “With Data Services, you can touch any Airbus product you choose and leverage the related data to an incredible variety of applications. There’s no limit to the participants’ creativity.”

Fly Your Ideas teams tackling the Data Services Challenge can look to start a traditional platform business, devise a means to improve production processes or extend a product life cycle. This might mean leveraging cloud computing power and machine learning techniques, or involve mixing a range of internal and external data to unleash some hidden potential.

The starting point will be thinking about new applications or services built on Airbus data from different sources. Proposals could be about industrial processes and the quality of workers’ lives, but they could also offer value-added services for Airbus’ customers, possibly using satellite or drone technology, or radical new solutions for travellers. As long as the idea uses data and aims to have a positive impact it will be considered.

“I got involved in Fly Your Ideas because I love the stimulating environment, this challenge is ‘Airbus wide’, and the rich cultural diversity of a global event is always a pleasure to work with,” concludes Jean-Michel. “My advice to applicants at this stage is to dream big, but also be very concrete in what you propose. Start prototyping as early as possible and always keep your ultimate user or customer in mind.”