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Technological advancements in artificial intelligence, robotics, block chain and connectivity are transforming the aerospace industry

posted on Apr 30, 2018

Day one of the Global Aerospace Summit showcased how technological advancements in artificial intelligence, robotics, block chain and connectivity are transforming the aerospace, aviation, space and defence industries. The importance of partnerships, collaborations and youth engagement were highlighted by a number of key participants including Mubadala, Etihad Aviation Group, Lockheed Martin, UAE Space Agency, Facebook, Hyperloop One and many others.

His Excellency Mohammed bin Ahmad Al Bawardi, Minister of State for Defence Affairs welcomed international guests to the UAE, where a knowledge based economy has formed a central national focus. He pointed out the fact that the UAE is the first country to appoint a minister for artificial intelligence, and highlighted an ambitious goal of establishing a settlement on Mars by 2117.

He commented: “The UAEs vision attracts global investments, and has produced infrastructure that meets international standards. We must face challenges hand in hand with our international partners, especially those that share in our ambitious visions. The UAE is pioneering with competitive technologies, providing diverse opportunities for Emirati nationals. Unfortunately there is instability around the world. In such circumstances, collaboration and coalition are essential for overcoming this. The UAE is determined to work with partners to provide resolution for all parties. The diverse transportation networks and services, as well as the welcoming legislative environment, have enabled us to succeed in realizing our vision.”

Khaled Al Qubaisi, Chief Executive Officer, Aerospace, Renewables & ICT for Mubadala was interviewed by CNN’s John Defterios in which he talked about the Middle East region being one of the fastest growing aviation and aerospace markets in the world, driven largely by surging tourism, booming economies and the great geographic location. He said that it is expected to see an annual growth of 6 per cent in air traffic for the next 2 decades, that’s 30% above the global average.

He added: “the UAE has the largest and one of the youngest fleet of aircraft in the region, …and its aviation industry alone… is valued at $80 billion - providing nearly half a million of direct and indirect jobs to a population of only 9 million.  And by 2025 it should account for 16 per cent of the nation's GDP, and that’s the aviation sector alone without including the space and defense... as you can see aerospace and its related industries will continue to be a key pillar of our economy as we forge ahead into the future.”

Tony Douglas, Group CEO, Etihad Aviation Group spoke about the airline’s mandate is to extend Abu Dhabi to the world.

He said: “This is one of the most competitive industries. Many airline brands no longer exist. At Etihad Airways, we have built something that is truly special and thrived for the past 15 years, but there is always a need to innovate, innovate and innovate. There is a huge tourism proposition on offer here in Abu Dhabi, and the higher aviation committee has already succeeded in connecting those offerings with airline and airport alike. The geography plays to our advantage as well. Two thirds of the world’s population live within a 6 hour radius. In our line of work, the network is all important. I believe the fundamentals are in place so that anyone who has an innovative and competitive product to offer can succeed.”

Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO of FlyDubai said: “We have developed our nation by taking part of our geographical location in the world. Over the past 10 years, we have managed to establish a network of 95 locations, 60 of which were not previously served. 600,000 people benefited from our code share agreement with Emirates, which has resulted in a combined network of more than 200 destinations. Collaboration with international governments has also been productive.”

Marillyn Hewson, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Lockheed Martin Corporation said that His Highness Sheikh Zayed’s focus on the future continues with today’s leaders in the UAE, as they drive progress across the emirates. The UAE is an example for the world of what a nation can achieve when wise leaders put in place sound policies, enable long-term cooperation and sustained investment in people and innovation.

She said: “We’re proud to have partnered with the UAE for four decades, to help achieve Sheikh Zayed’s vision.  We recognize the tremendous promise and the key role that the aerospace industry can play in building the future through innovation. Through our global experience, we’ve identified ways for building strong public private partnerships. Firstly, the importance of partners having a shared vision on global security as the foundation for economic opportunity, growth and progress. Public private partnerships must focus on driving innovation. The most effective public private partnerships focus on the long-term goal of building up the talents and capabilities of the nation.”

Harj Dhaliwa, Managing Director Middle East & India, Hyperloop One spoke about his company offering a brand new mode of transport. Combining space, aerospace and rail engineering technology into one. He said: “We will be giving time back. 300 to 500 kilometers can be done in half an hour. It will disrupt logistics, cargo, the way we plan and  move and how we get to work. It will be bring jobs, economic growth and opportunities. We have proven the technology works.”

“We’ve had a big launch with DP World looking at the logistics market. We are looking at a brand new logistics model in a similar way to air freight. The whole supply chain is being reviewed. DP Cargo Speed could revolutionize and disrupt the market. We are working actively in KSA, with two years with RTA in the UAE. We are taking a phased approach to the GCC. We are working in India and have been for past nine months. There is need and demand and great support from government. They have a history of leapfrogging technology. In telecoms they went from nothing to 4G and skipped wired telecoms. We have signed a binding agreement to develop the first Hyperloop system from Mumbai and to start on the ground in 2019. Our pods are pressurized vessels. They are effectively aircraft with no wings. At some stage we are looking to partner with aerospace manufacturers. We are discussing with Strata on carbon composite materials. The aviation industry will be a key area to support us moving forward. By 2025 we will have our first commercial operation.”

David Hansell, Public Policy Manager at Facebook explained the reasons why his company has created programmes to connect rural connectivity and populations that are under connected. He said that individual advances have been made in batteries, satellites, composite materials by a lot of great companies are allowing them to create new modes of connectivity across the world.

He said: “We want to disrupt the isolation people have in terms of lack of communications. We want to create connections across the world. We have been building huge data centres, server racks, payloads and urban connectivity solutions. We often give these plans away to allow people to build businesses from them. Having partners makes it easier to work on the HAPS space. We are aiming to spread social good and look for wins for everyone.”

Dr. Steven Griffiths, Khalifa University said: “We are spending a lot of time focusing on what is coming from Ministry of Artificial Intelligence, robotics, data science and manufacturing institutions. We have a project on sustainable biomass to create sustainable jet fuel. We work with Boeing, Etihad Airways and General Electric to develop something with great commercial viability. Training manpower of the country is critical. We have a program to develop CubeSats with Yahsat. Power and propulsion is a big focus in our research, as well as connecting micro grid batteries. We have centers in autonomous robotic systems and an important focus on cyber security and advanced materials. We have become a top 100 university in the world.”

Omar Al Mahmood, ICT fund said: “Every year we receive global submissions on how we can better use drones for good and the best applications are highlighted. One example is Sanad – a company that created a drone life buoy ring launched to rescue drowning victims in time before rescue services.”

*Source: Four Communications Group 



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