A Dutch university team of four students, including two Indians, won this year’s prestigious ‘Airbus Fly Your Ideas’ competition for their prototype on the application of wireless systems in aircraft instead of traditional wired systems.
Team ‘Zero Heroes’ from the Delft University of Technology was among the seven finalists. The competition saw the participation of more than 270 teams, comprising more than 2,200 students from 72 countries.
“It was not easy. We had to cross different stages over the last 7-8 months. We worked hard to get at the top and we’re very happy now,” said Sujay Narayana who, along with Ashwij Narayanyan, Niels Hokke and Nikas (Dutch and German) won the 25,000 euro prize at the grand finale in Toulouse (France) on Thursday evening.
Narayana, 31, who hails from Karnataka, argued that this idea solves the main limitation for IoT (Internet of Things) in aircraft by removing battery integration – a current challenge for safety and regulation. Furthermore, it reduces fuel consumption and weight while simplifying aircraft retrofit and maintenance needs, added Narayana, who is pursuing his PhD in computer science at the university.
When asked if he plans to return to India after completing his studies, he told PTI, “Yes, that’s always the plan.”
“We are already working on some projects in India,” he added.
Ashwij Narayanyan, 24, who also hails from Karnataka, said that they have planned to implement the idea in the real aircraft.
R. Venkatesha Prasad, the group’s academic mentor, said India is full of talent, which needs to be utilised for the country’s progress.
He also advocated a change in the traditional education system in India, saying learning should not be to score high marks and get jobs. “We need to change this concept,” said Mr. Prasad, who also hails from Karnataka.
The runner-up team AirFish – comprising three Indonesians and one Japanese – from the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, presented the prototype of Airbus integrated Fisheries Information services, arguing that it can help governments combat illegal fishing, reduce, bycatch of endangered species, and decrease damage to the marine habitat.
Seven teams qualified for the grand finale of the competition, which invited students from around the world to innovate in key areas for the industry: Electrification, Data Services, Cyber Security, Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and Mixed Reality.
The finalist teams- representing 11 countries (India, Argentina, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Moldavia, Netherlands, Norway, United Kingdom) and eight different universities – were selected after a three-month development phase working with support from Airbus mentors.
Aircraft manufacturer Airbus launched ‘Fly your Ideas’ in 2008 with the aim of engaging with universities and students worldwide and from all backgrounds.
The competition is in partnership with UNESCO since 2012. Since its launch, over 22,000 students from over 700 universities and 100 countries worldwide have participated in it.