Flying on airplanes is full of ups and downs for everyone from passengers to pilots to maintenance crews to air traffic management.
To improve the travel experience for all, developers recently came together for a hackathon at Honeywell’s headquarters in Morris Plains, New Jersey.
It’s a puzzle that the event’s primary organizer Les Fekete -- Honeywell’s director of engineering for Aerospace in the Atlanta Software Innovation Center – is very familiar with. “These are great problems that need to be solved,” he said, adding that the format is an ideal way to collaborate. “Hackathons are like a microcosm of what we are building for the Atlanta Software Center – bring together great people with diverse technical skillsets and domain knowledge to collaborate, innovate and create amazing value adding solutions.”
Team Alpha Aero took first prize with a solution to handling lost baggage. “The frequent issue of lost baggage is something that really troubles a passenger, upsetting their experience and causing a huge discomfort in the days that follow,” said Akshay Penmatcha, a grad student pursuing a Masters in Applied Data Science at New York University's Center for Urban Science & Progress. “In most cases, airlines tend to approach this problem in a reactive way rather than a proactive or even a prescriptive way.”
Per Les, the winning team scored well in all criteria: They had an innovative solution adding value to a key set of stakeholders; they demonstrated a complete working prototype of the solution; and that they could implement the proper technologies to get the job done.
In addition to a day of innovation, the participants learned about Honeywell’s history and technologies. “Fantastic company at the forefront of Research and Development in diverse fields,” said Akshay. “I was surprised that I was directly or indirectly utilizing Honeywell's products all my life and I never knew about it.”
Here’s the story behind the day’s winning ideas:
1st Place Team: Alpha Aero
Members: Sreeram Sreenath, Raghavendra Sirigeri, Vani Munagala and Akshay Penmatcha
Solution: Place a base-station (Rapberry Pi 3) in several places in the airport and equip all check-in baggage with a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacon. The base-station acts like Wi-Fi access points across the airport in key places like passenger entrance, baggage drop, security queue and luggage carousel. This will help track the location of all luggage and provide alerts to passengers who can avoid waiting near the carousel for baggage and airport personnel to prevent theft. They also developed an Android mobile app.
Onboard Turbulence Detector
2nd Place Team: Seab
Members:Bryan Liao, Suyasha Shrestha and Christopher Torres
Solution: Currently, all flights get weather data from the ground station, which is typically three to six hours old. This solution offers onboard live detection of turbulence by using vibration and tilt sensors to alert pilots and the ground-station, which will then notify other flights that fly the same route.
Connected Maintenance Reports
3rd Place Team: Inspector Gadgets
Members: John Packel, Igor Sinyak and Colin Sumter
Solution: The maintenance worker in the flight will initiate a video call with the supervisor who will be sitting remotely in the hangar or a remote location. Using special headsets that contain a video camera and a laser pointer, they can pinpoint the issues faster. The maintenance report generated will be analyzed by IBM Watson to gain intelligence and to provide voice assistance for future maintenance.
To bring their ideas to life, teams were provided with a full assortment of sensing devices, including Raspberry Pi 3, Arduino Uno R3, TI Sensor tags, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacon, Arduino 20+ Sensor pack and Environmental Sensing Kit