A concept to use batteryless wireless switches for aircraft systems to simplify maintenance and remove the need to integrate batteries has won the top prize at Airbus’s Fly Your Ideas student competition.
Team Zero Heroes from Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands beat six other finalists that presented their ideas in a live final on June 27 to take home the 25,000 euros in prize money.
Airbus said the four-person jury was impressed by Team Zero Heroes’ innovative spirit and economic understanding.
“Their development of wireless systems solves the main limitation for IoT in aircraft by removing battery integration – a current challenge for safety and regulation,” Airbus said in a statement.
“Furthermore, it reduces fuel consumption and weight while simplifying aircraft retrofit and maintenance needs.”
VIDEO: A look at the Team Zero Heroes concept from the Airbus Fly Your Ideas YouTube channel.
Team Zero Heroes leader Sujay Narayana said the concept had a number of applications.
“Each aircraft seat has a number of buttons with different functions. For example, with one button you can switch the lights on and off while another button allows you to ask the flight attendant for help,” Narayana explained on the Delft University of Technology website.
“All these buttons are powered by large, heavy cables. Replacing these heavy cables with a wireless system would reduce the mass of an aircraft, make maintenance easier and save fuel.”
Finishing behind Team Zero Heroes was team AirFish from the University of Cambridge, who impressed with their idea of an ocean monitoring system using a satellite imagery and video imaging technology.
“Their development can help governments combat illegal fishing, reduce bycatch of endangered species, and generally decrease damages to the marine habitat,” Airbus said.
The second-placed team went home with 10,000 euros, with a further 10,000 euros split among the other four finalists.
In the lead up to the live final, the seven finalists spent a week at Airbus’s Toulouse headquarters working on their ideas and building prototypes at the aerospace company’s state-of-the-art facilities, supported by mentors and experts.
The jury comprised Airbus digital transformation officer Marc Fontaine, Airbus ExO Alpha chief executive Sandra Bour Schaeffer, Airbus senior vice president and head of human relations business partner Marcella Hoffmann and International Space University assistant professor of space applications Taiwo Tejumola.
Airbus Fly Your Ideas began in 2009 and is run every two years.
It offers students an opportunity to work with a team of aviation professionals on real-world challenges, going beyond the aircraft itself. The competition is open to students of all nationalities and all disciplines – from engineering to marketing; science to design.
The competition was granted UNESCO patronage in 2012.
Airbus said about 270 teams from 72 countries entered the 2019 competition. The top five countries in terms of entrants were India (43 teams), China and Hong Kong (17), France (16), Iran (15) and United Kingdom (15).
The top 51 entrants were shortlisted in December 2018.