More efficient and safer air travel through use of computer vision/artificial intelligence
With demand for air travel expected to double before 2040, there has never been a greater need for Artificially Intelligent technology to support human teams in-charge of airport efficiency, safety and innovation. And, with so many areas in the industry that could benefit from this support, airports are now asking which innovative businesses are bringing the most inspiring and intelligent products to the table.
One company that is creating waves in the air travel industry is Assaia, who’s product Apron AI has had notable success and rave reviews from some of the busiest airports. We spoke with Chief Customer Officer Christiaan Hen, who shared his perspective on how they are changing the future of air travel.
“Innovation can hold a different meaning depending on what you are looking to improve,” Christiaan explains, “At Assaia, we ambitiously demonstrate innovation by using AI to deliver real-time situational awareness that eliminates ambiguity between airports, airlines and handlers.”
As specialists in the aviation industry, Assaia provides reliable software solutions that create insight into ongoing turnarounds to help understand what is really happening within airports in real-time. Providing accurate and clear data that can speed up decision making processes and limit risk.
The core product, The Apron AI, ingests video streams (preferably from existing cameras) and turns this video data into structured data. This is typically timestamped about turnaround events (e.g. bridge connected, catering on stand, pushback truck connected…). Furthermore, the AI can be trained to recognize any events of interest that are visible on the available video streams.
It is a system that learns and offers a predictive analysis which assists airlines and airports with managing their operations. Currently there are a number of airports which are being prepared for a full roll out, while 20-30 pilot programmes are being trialled across the globe. The aim of these pilot programmes is to demonstrate to potential customers the capabilities and value that the product can provide.
The relatively young and rapidly expanding team started on their product roughly a year and a half ago after identifying the need in the industry for more insightful data. They introduced their AI computer vision technology and the company has been on a non-stop flight and soaring to new heights ever since.
While they have been faced with many different opportunities to use their technology for various sectors, their focus is exclusively on being the full solution provider within the aviation industry.
Geographically the team is sprawled out, but this doesn’t stop them from being close knit and staying in contact with each other multiple times a day. This has helped foster a real spirit of reliability, an essential skill required when working on such large-scale projects remotely as a team.
There are many motivating factors when it comes to creating new technologies and solutions, but for Assaia’s Apron AI, innovation is the driving force behind their product.
And it doesn’t end at the creation process; according to Christiaan, innovation is part of the Assaia culture and is an attitude that the company is built on. Being one of the first to offer a unique technology that is still new to airports is something to be excited about and it is this pioneering spirit that helps the team push the boundaries within the industry.
Like every business there is a fair share of challenges to contend with and the air travel industry is constantly growing with no sign of slowing down. Being proactive and able to keep up with the demand and meeting the needs of airlines and airports is both a challenge and juggling act.
Additionally, the challenge of ambiguity is the operational enemy for almost any industry, especially for air travel which relies on precision data to make minute-by-minute decisions. Assaia is one of the very few solutions that aims to break the cycle by positioning all three entities of wins, losses and improvement opportunities on equal ground and in real-time.
AI in action
Rather than just selling a product, Christiaan and his team spend time working intimately with their clients to help fully understand their needs. Once they have identified the areas that require support, technological solutions are presented to help them solve the issue at hand.
Christiaan reveals that clients who are getting on board with the technology include the likes of British Airways, Swissport and Finavia just to name a few. This list is set to grow soon as more airports get a taste for how AI technologies can vastly improve their operational capacities.
“Recently,” he says, “Our collaboration with the Cincinnati Northern Kentucky International Airport gave us the opportunity to demonstrate the value of our technologies in a bustling airport environment. The project involved a trial of the Apron AI software which spanned over three months, allowing adequate time for testing different innovations and tech.”
The team worked closely with Cincinnati Northern Kentucky International Airport’s Chief of Innovation Brian Cobb, to try and resolve some of the challenges the airport faced. This involved looking at how the technology could alleviate some of these pressures and one of the major challenges was a common theme experienced by many other airports. The limited insight into the real-time turnaround of an aircraft.
Brian explains that as he is now responsible for CVG Airport’s brand commitments to efficiency and airline performance, he needs as much accurate data as possible.
“Assaia gives me the immediate advantage of monitoring and reporting all phases of ground movement in and around each aircraft,” he says, “It is a complete overview.”
Great innovations are found through creating advantages like this which allow for valuable data to be collected and analysed efficiently. This in turn assists the airport management and their airlines and handlers to improve their operational effectiveness and safety.
“Assaia’s Artificial Intelligence capacity is intriguing,” Brian says, “Our industry must always close gaps in the map of the customer’s travel journey, so we must futureproof ourselves beyond merely trendy solutions. After working with Assaia through a short and straightforward pilot test of the product line we quickly envisioned a long-term strategy that provided advantages and clear returns on investment across their portfolio of services.”
The industry is fast-paced and competitive and constantly involves being a step ahead of the game. With that in mind, Brian admits he is enjoying the distinct and marketable advantage he currently has over competing airports.
“Leveraging the Apron AI technology,” he says, “Has allowed us to demonstrate to airline partners that our service level commitments are among the best. This will be a pivotal milestone for the team as we will be able to share real-life examples of how the AI technology is assisting the air travel industry, and to witness the benefits in action.”
As proof of how the technology is solving some of the industry’s biggest challenges, there is also the aim to develop further use of machine learning based predictions for aircraft statuses instead of the current human generated estimates. This represents a progressive step for the air travel industry.
What Lies ahead?
As 2020 inches closer, Christiaan assures us that the only plan Assaia has, is to expand their technology and continue to be an influential innovator within their industry.
”Artificial Intelligent programmes may seem like tomorrow’s technology, but we are harnessing it today,” he says, “By working together with airports we will find new areas where our solutions can be used, and new ways to innovate Together, we are helping shape the future of air travel.”
If you want to see for yourself how the Apron AI product works, check out the online demo at www.assaia.com/tmc